My duties as college and seminary president require me to be away from campus frequently. While I’m gone, my executive assistant, Tom Johnson, must often speak for me and act on my behalf.

One day, as he and I were working together, we were interrupted by a loud pounding on my office door. Before I could respond, a young man burst into the room. “I’m here to serve some court papers on George Brushaber,” he said.

Looking past me at Tom, who was near my desk, he asked, “Are you he and if not, can you sign for him so I can get these papers served?” I motioned for Tom to accept the court notice in my name.

What does it mean for one person to act and speak on behalf of another? How do I represent someone else? And what does it require of me?

Legally speaking, we are familiar with such actions as granting “power of attorney,” appointing a guardian for a child, or selecting an executor for one’s estate. But these responsibilities and prerogatives are limited in scope and time. Only in very specific situations do I exercise a power of attorney. And as executor, I have my tasks clearly defined by the court.

However, no such limitations are imposed on our appointment as representatives for Jesus Christ. Paul, in the midst of his letter to the Colossians, said “Whatsoever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” And he wrote to the Corinthians urging them to glorify God in all of life, including what they ate and drank. Moreover, for Paul, believers represent Christ as his “letters of commendation” and speak as his “ambassadors” resident in this society on his behalf.

All of these figures of speech carry the notion of continuous and comprehensive representation of Christ. It appears that we are—without exception—to ...

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