The older I get and the more I study, the more I slowly begin to gain insight into the nature and character of our Savior. I am constantly reminded of his genuine love and mercy toward sinners like me. Time and time again I find myself in awe of how He lived his life, his close relationship with the Father, and how he compassionately dealt with all different types of people.
Several years ago, a preacher stood before the congregation and issued a challenge. The challenge was simple and soon turned into a decree for many Christians all over the world; “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”
In light of the storms all around me, I have found myself focusing more and more on this question. Lately is seems like everywhere I turn, I encounter people who are hurting, saddened, angry, and even afraid. In light of these events, I completely understand why people feel this way. However; I am deeply troubled when people allow their emotions to get the best of them and commit actions which are shameful and not fitting for people of God.
A passage which frequently comes to mind is 1 Peter 2:21-25 which reads, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
There are some observations I would like to make to challenge us as God’s chosen people to follow the example of Christ. We need to follow His example in:
His Suffering (vs. 21) No one likes to feel pain or anguish. As parents, when our children hurt we do everything in our power to make that pain go away. As individuals we will not stop in our quest to find a remedy for our discomfort. However; James tells us that we should be joyous when we face trials of any kind, because the testing of our faith develops perseverance, maturity, completeness, and wisdom.” For years this troubled me but know I have come to realize that without the process of suffering we will never become all that God wants us to be. We often ask God to remove our thorn in the flesh, and God replies, “My grace is sufficient”. I want to strongly encourage anyone reading this blog entry, to not lose hope but to realize that all of us will be better and stronger people of God because of the hardships we face.
His Righteousness and Speech (vs. 22) As we meditate on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, I have long wondered why He didn’t stand up before the people and defend Himself. Why didn’t He call ten thousand angels to destroy the world? Why did he allow Himself to be so brutally beaten and whipped? Why did he go to the cross to experience such a slow and painful death? We know He had the power and authority but yet He remained silent, but why? The answer is simple; Jesus wasn’t fulfilling His own will but the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39).
If we are going to live lives holy and pleasing unto God, then we must strive to be salt and light to the world (Matt 5:13-14); to shine like stars (Phil 2:12-18) in the midst of a dark world; and to imitate Jesus (1 Cor 11:1). James tells us that we must learn to control our tongues (James 3:1-8) and asks a compelling statement, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (vs. 9-10) May we not allow our emotions to get the best of us by talking in a way which is not fruitful and holy before God.
His Retaliation (vs. 23) Jesus once said in Matt.5:38-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
I once heard a preacher say, Jesus doesn’t want us to payback everyone for the evil they have caused us but instead to take the high road.” I couldn’t have stated it any clearer myself.
His Commitment (vs. 23-25) Our culture is one that does not see commitment as something of importance any more. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 9:57-62, “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
The point that Jesus wants us to understand today is that there is a difference in being involved or being totally committed. Guys, can you imagine going home and saying, “Honey I am involved in the marriage, in the raising of our children, and to the Lord, however; I am not committed to you, the children, or the church.” How do you feel that statement would go over? To bottom line is we can be involved in religion or we can be committed to God. We can be involved in the church or we can be committed to the church. We can be involved in our marriages or we can be committed to our marriages. It is all up to us.
In the midst of any trial or storm; I have made the decision that I am going to remain faithful to God. I am going to trust Him and His Word that “all things work out for the greater good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). I am going to do everything that I can to live my life as Jesus did and to follow in His example (1 Peter 2:21) through my conduct, speech, and commitment. God has great plans for each and every one of us but we must be willing to live and Christians and put our faith into action.