June 23, 2016
When you hear the phrase “a way of life” what do you think about? Most of us would think about our habits in life, what we believe, and how we act. As Christians we need to make following Jesus our way of life. Understanding who Jesus was and what He did should make a difference in the way you approach life, yet many Christians only give Him lip service. “ Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”John 14:6. Jesus wasn’t just a nice man who did nice things. Jesus Christ is God, yet He loved you and me enough to take on human form and die on the cross. He conquered death. No mere man could accomplish that, only God. His shed blood is the only way that we sinners are made worthy to stand before the Father. Only through Jesus Christ can we find salvation.
In the early days, Christianity was called the “way”. This indicates that following Christ is more than a religion; it is a way of life. When Saul was on his mission of hatred toward this group of people who seemed to be turning away from the Jewish life, he asked for orders to persecute these followers of Jesus. “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.” Acts 9:1-2. It was on the road to Damascus that Saul met Jesus and from that point on, Saul’s life was changed. Even his name changed from Saul, meaning “desired”, to Paul, meaning “small or little”. Saul’s anger and hatred had controlled his life but Paul’s life was filled with humble obedience after he met Christ. His way of life was drastically changed and that’s how meeting Jesus should change each of us. The sin we took pleasure in prior to accepting Jesus for salvation should not have a hold on us after we meet Him.
Jesus gave us the example to follow. He was God in the flesh, but humbly and obediently entered His creation as one of us. When He shared the last supper with His disciples, He knew that in a very short time He would be arrested, illegally tried, and crucified. He knew that His shed blood on the cross would be the only way to restore mankind to fellowship with God. Before He allowed Himself to be arrested, He had a lesson of humbleness to teach those men who followed him. “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?”John 13:12. Washing feet was common in those days, but it was done by a servant not by a master. Jesus was teaching them, and us, humility. A proud spirit is not the way of Jesus. I often wonder what was going through the minds of those men who followed Him, especially Judas. Proud men all, but Jesus showed them a better way. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.” John 13:16.Jesus Christ, God Himself, could have demanded to be served, but He showed humility. Can we do any less? Jesus even washed the feet of the one who would betray Him. After Judas left, Jesus had more to say to those men He knew were His true followers. “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:33-35. Love. That’s the way Jesus showed us and the way we need to follow.
Too often we make the way of the world the way we follow. Even something as common as anger is sin and puts us out of fellowship with God. Jesus said “But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:22. God sees things in a different light than we do, and we need to strive to make His way our way. The word “Raca” is an interesting word that means empty headed, but carries a lot of malice when spoken and our thoughts will show in our actions. When we accept Christ as our Saviour, our attitude needs to change to match His. Our thoughts need to reflect the way He showed us. Jesus’ way is love, not hatred, anger, or any other attitude that comes from Satan. Jesus did get angry, but His anger was not over petty things. His anger was always toward the religious hypocrites who misrepresented God.
Brothers and sisters, we need to make our faith real…make it a way of life that shows a fallen world that Christ is real. How do we do that? We follow His example. We love one another, we humble ourselves, and serve others. Christ showed us by example and one lesson He taught was that God’s house is to be respected. “And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves…And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But ye have made it a den of thieves.” Mark 11:15,17. Is He shown respect in His house today? Seeker friendly congregations, watered down truth, yoga, and more are turning our places of worship into places that welcome Satan rather than Christ. Does the disrespect to God’s house stop with a building? No. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. Do we honor God when we use our bodies for sin? The Holy Spirit indwells every believer and when we do not honor God with our way of life then we defile the temple of God just as the moneychangers defiled the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus must be “the way” of our life.
Another attitude a Christian needs to have is one of forgiveness. Jesus had just told a parable regarding forgiveness and maybe Peter was convicted of some lack of forgiveness on his part, or maybe he just wanted to get the rules straight, but he wanted to know more. “Then came Peter to him, and said Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times.” Matthew 18:21. I like Peter because he always asks questions. To Peter seven times seemed like a lot of times to forgive a person who has done wrong. I’m sure Peter thought he was being generous, but Jesus saw it differently. “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but Until seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22. Jesus, being our example of the way we should live, says to keep on forgiving. Is there someone in your life that has wronged you? Forgiveness can heal rifts, but if you do not forgive then the wrong will fester inside of you and can turn to hatred. That is not the way Jesus has taught us.
Jesus’ example of forgiving sinners is seen throughout the Gospels, but the ultimate example was when He was hanging on that cross. He had shown obedience by going to the cross. He had been tortured and now was hanging between two men who were also being crucified. As our Lord and Saviour hung there bloodied and giving His life so we can gain eternal life, He looked down at the crowd. His mother was there along with John and a few others who had followed Him. The Roman soldiers who had pounded the nails into his hands and feet were there and Jesus watched as they divided his clothes among themselves. The two men beside Him were angry and in their final hours of life they joined in with those in the crowd who mocked Jesus. How did He react to these people? “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Luke 23:34. Jesus showed perfect love. His forgiveness did not get Him a reprieve, but His example led one more dying soul to salvation. One of those men beside Him continued to mock, “But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Luke 23:40-41. Had this thief heard of Jesus before this day but just didn’t follow Him? Or was there something about Jesus forgiving those who tortured and mocked Him that showed this criminal a better way? “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. When people do us wrong we need to forgive them. Perhaps our conduct will be an example to someone and bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ. Forgiveness needs to be a way of life with every Christian.
Many Christians separate their Christian way of life from their working life, going to school life, or hobbies. Our Christian walk needs to be an every day around the clock way of life. Our Christian faith needs to be so evident in our way of life that others see Christ in us. They may hate you because of it, but always follow Christ not the world. Jesus said “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:18-19. If someone hates you because they see Christ in you, then your way of life may be convicting them of the sin in their own life. Don’t deviate from the way of life that Christ showed.
Do you love Him? If you do, then follow Him. Follow Him every step of your path because He is “… the way, the truth, and the life.”
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.