Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Live like Jesus

A couple of days ago I talked about Pharisees. I said that we as individuals and a church need to avoid the religiosity, hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the Pharisees.

But there's more.

If Jesus didn't like the Pharisees, if he actively opposed them, then what does that say?

Jesus preached living a life of servant hood, obedience, peace, love, grace, forgiveness and putting God at the centre. He lived His life serving. His message wasn't one of fear, of condemnation. He made no threats to people.

Some people who call themselves Christians today do exactly that. The religious right in the US. Those who turn up with placards at a gay rally and say 'You're going to burn in hell, God hates you'. Those who stand on street corners with foghorns warning people that unless they repent they are doomed to eternal punishment.

Forgive me for asking, but when did Jesus do any of this?

I don't see Him ever doing anything like that.

Who did he meet with? Who did He hang out with? Who wanted to know Him?

It wasn't religious people. It wasn't the self-righteous who talked down to people.

It was the poor, the needy, those whom society and even the religious authorities have ignored or rejected. Those whom people have prejudice against. The marginalised.

He hung out with them. He talked to them. He listened to them. He showed them how God felt about them.

Not only that, but He showed us how we should be treating them and how we should be spreading the message of Jesus.

Its not with billboards. Its not with foghorns. Its not with condemnation. Its not even necessarily with words.

Its loving someone who doesn't love you. Who everyone else has forgotten or written off.

I heard a true story of a Christian couple who moved into a new house, and a man lived across them who was a Satanist.

What did they do? Go to him and tell him how evil and bad he was, that he need to stop what he was doing and follow Jesus?

No. They served. They helped him. They did his gardening, they helped him find a job. They helped him out at home and made him feel loved and welcomed. They showed that they valued him, and not only that, but that God did too. They did the equivalent of washing his feet.

Four months after they first met him, he gave his life to Christ.

Why? Not because they had preached at him, but because they had modelled what Jesus did. They showed him who Jesus was and what his message means. They lived it out.

You see, we can preach all we like. But to spread the gospel we need to live it out. Then it will speak for itself.

We need to stand against religious people who preach from the sidelines and look down on people who don't know Jesus. People who judge and condemn because somebody is a drug addict, or someone of another sexual orientation or religious belief.

There are Christians who do that.

They judge them, the talk about them as lesser people. They condemn them. They preach at them. They patronise them with comments about how much they need Jesus as if they are little children. They condemn them for what they believe and put themselves on a pedestal.

You and I know that there are sections of the Christian faith and even Christian leaders who do this.

Personally, that's not Christianity to me.

That's not a faith I want to be a part of.

Or, I dare say, that Jesus wants to be a part of.

Jesus calls us to live His way, according to His values and standards, and love our neighbour. To serve our neighbour. To love our enemies. To serve and bless them. To wash their feet.

He didn't come to condemn the world but save the world. He modelled a Godly life and set the example for us about how to live, and how to spread the gospel.

Not with judgement, self-righteousness and condemnation.

With love.

If we want to be followers of Jesus, we must do as He did. Not as a token gesture, but as part of our everyday lives. Part of our lifestyle.

Its not an optional extra. If we call ourselves Christians its what we should be doing.

People talk about why the church is declining. Its not hard to see why.

Its because not enough Christians publicly and openly live out our faith practically. If people see us living out our faith then they see who Jesus is. They see Christians doing living out what they constantly preach about.

When people see that, they see Jesus. When they see Jesus, then there is usually a response. Jesus changes lives.

Lets not be hypocrites like the Pharisees. Saying one thing and not living it. I know for myself, this is big challenge. I know I don't do enough. We all need to do more. Jesus calls us to live His way, and He lived out perfectly how God wants us to live.

Lets live like Jesus. It's the only way to go.