But how do we know how to live that life?
We have two clear ways as believers to follow the Jesus way of life.
First, we focus on WHAT Jesus taught. Some people call this red-letter living after the printed Bibles that show Jesus' teaching in red ink. People who live this way look at what Jesus taught when he was here on earth, then do what he said.
This Jesus-styled living, this obedient lifestyle, is wise living (Matthew 7:24-25 NLT). Jesus called it the blessed life as he began his famous teachings found in what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-16). In a world perpetually gripped in darkness, Jesus still calls us to be the light that shines in the darkness and drives it out by living as he lived.
Today's video from James Nored focuses on this teaching and how it furnished the lifestyle for Christians in the first few centuries. This lifestyle, this way of Jesus, swept through the Roman Empire because his followers actually lived the life Jesus called them to live. As James says in the video below, those early disciples took it upon themselves to become "little Jesuses"! They lived the love, compassion, character, and sacrifice that Jesus demonstrated.
Second, we can learn to live the Jesus-styled life by noticing HOW Jesus treated people. The way Jesus treated people becomes a spiritual hearing aide to help us understand and more clearly hear what Jesus taught. I encourage you to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and begin a notebook of reflections that notes how Jesus treated people in his interactions with them.
Today, many mourn the way followers of Jesus are portrayed in the media, caricatured by critics as close-minded bigots, and the political trolls of hate. Some of this can be attributed to our own failings. As culture has changed, many who call themselves Christians have forgotten to listen to Jesus and obey him. We've quit living the Jesus way, the blessed life, and we've begun to live the political life, the defensive life.
When we go back and watch the Lord as he dealt with people, we can't help but notice the difference between Jesus and the church that is supposed to be his bodily presence in the world. The people who flocked to Jesus don't want to have anything to do with the people of his church today. Why? What are we doing differently from what Jesus did? Why are the lost, the last, and the least not drawn to the message of Christ that we preach today when they were drawn to him when he was here?
James' observations about the work of the church in those first three centuries after Jesus are a reminder to us of the difference. They tried to practice the Jesus way of life. They advocated for the vulnerable — the poor, the foreigner, the child not accepted into the family (whether newborn or unborn), the widow, and the orphan. They cared for the sick, the imprisoned, and the needy. They welcomed people of all races and status as equal citizens of Jesus' kingdom.
This lifestyle, this way of Jesus, was what he taught in the beatitudes and explained in the Sermon on the Mount. It is what Jesus lived when he was here. It is what he called the blessed life. It is the way of life that makes us his family. Let's make sure this way is also our way! Our world needs the modern day church to move from reformation to restoration, from church hierarchy to a people on our knees in service. We don't need to tweak how we do church; we need the new wine of a Jesus-styled transformation. The world needs us, those who claim to follow Jesus, to restore the presence of Jesus to the world through the way we live.