Would You Embrace Him?
We are taught in the Scriptures that, as followers of Jesus, we are to be like him in heart, character, attitude, thought, word, and deed. Yet so many people claim to be Christians and yet are not living the kind of life that Jesus lived, but they are still living primarily for themselves.
Do you think that if Jesus walked into your gatherings today that you would recognize him for who he is? Would you embrace him? Would you want to be associated with him? Or would you shun him, gossip about him, and disassociate yourself from him? You might be surprised at your response.
For, the church at large, at least here in America, is not embracing Jesus for who he is. They are shunning him, they are disassociating themselves from him, and they are embracing “another Jesus” instead. They are accepting a Jesus created in the minds of humans, and not the Jesus of the Bible.
How do I know this? Listen to their teachings. Read their books. Read their Facebook and Twitter posts, and their posts on Christian Discussion Sites and on blogs. And sit in on their “Bible studies” and their small group gatherings and listen to their sermons and observe their worship services.
And then read the New Testament book by book and verse by verse and take note of the kinds of things Jesus did and said and taught, and if you are at all observant you will notice the discrepancies between the Jesus being taught in today’s modern church and the Jesus of the Scriptures.
Jesus of the Scriptures
1 John 2:5-6 ESV
“By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
So, how did Jesus walk? Well, he never sinned, but this is not saying we have to be sinless (1 Jn 2:1-2). But we must be obeying his commandments (New Covenant), or we are liars if we say we know him and yet we don’t do what he says, but we continue living in sin (1 Jn 2:3-5; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
And we must be walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. We should no longer be living in sin, making sin our practice, but righteousness should be what we practice (Rom 8:1-17; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 3:7; Tit 2:11-14; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8).
Jesus submitted to God the Father in all things, and he obeyed the Father, and he emulated him, and he glorified and honored God the Father by what he did and by what he said. And this is how we must live, too, if we are to be like Jesus, and to be in Christ, and to be born of the Spirit.
Jesus healed the sick and afflicted and raised the dead and delivered people from demons, and he comforted the sorrowful, and he fed the hungry. And these are the kinds of things we ought to be doing, too. And we should be bringing words to people which turn them from darkness to light.
And Jesus loved people with a pure and a godly love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, upright, godly, moral, pure, unadulterated, and honest. And we are to love others in the same way, so we will not sin against them deliberately and habitually.
What did Jesus Teach?
Matthew 10:34-39 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus Christ did not teach that to follow him was a “cakewalk,” i.e., “an absurdly or surprisingly easy task” (Google). But that is what is largely being taught today, that we can just “believe” in Jesus, have heaven guaranteed us when we die, but that our faith doesn’t have to impact our lifestyles.
Jesus was clear on the fact that following him has a cost associated with it (Lu 9:23-26). Now, this does not negate the fact that his grace is offered to us as a free gift, but it does require that we understand what that free gift is, for it is not just forgiveness of sins and the hope of heaven when we die.
Jesus’ free gift of grace and of salvation to us is deliverance from our slavery to sin and it is empowerment to live godly and holy lives for the praise of God. For we are now God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should WALK in them (Eph 2:10). So, we must walk according to the Spirit, not by the flesh (Rom 8).
Thus, when we leave our lives of sin behind us to follow our Lord Jesus in surrender to his ways and in obedience to his commands, and if we do the kinds of things which he did, and we say the things he said, we are not going to be well liked, even by others who call themselves “Christians.”
We will even have family members who will turn against us or who will ignore us or not want to be around us or who will think evil of us or think we are not acting “Christian-like” because we are, in fact, being like Jesus. And that is because they have been following a social gospel, not Jesus.
For, the gospel Jesus taught is not what is largely being taught today, because Jesus demands death to sin and living to righteousness as our practice, our walk of faith, and he demands that he is number one in our lives and that we follow in his footsteps.
For, if we don’t, and we have this idea that we can live our lives how we want, we are not only not worthy of him, but he says we will lose our lives for eternity. And we need to take this to heart. For, if we live to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we live to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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