Jesus taught his followers that their goal was to be like their teacher (Luke 6:40): he called them to live a Jesus-styled life. The apostle Paul held up this Jesus-styled life as the only way for them to live (Philippians 2:5-11). He encouraged those he taught to follow his example of living as he followed the Jesus way (1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 4:9).
But how do we know how to live that life?
We have two clear ways as believers to follow 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 way of life, this obedient lifestyle, is God's way of life (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 his light that shines in the world's 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 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 our failings to always communicate lovingly and redemptively have contributed to this perception. As culture has changed, many of us who call ourselves 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.
James' observations in the video about the work of the church in those first three centuries after Jesus remind us of the difference between then and now. They tried to practice Jesus' way of living. 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.
Jesus taught this lifestyle, this way of Jesus, in the beatitudes. He explained these truths in more depth in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus lived this lifestyle when he was here. The Lord called his lifestyle 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.
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