A person can not change the world until God has first changed them. This is what I came to realize while our family lived in Sudan (previous article).
While living in Sudan, Shellie and I learned some things about ourselves we didn’t really like. I learned how much I preferred things to be a certain way. I learned I continually sought perfectionism in all things. We learned we preferred to parent a certain way and to do church a certain way. Problem was, you can’t be real particular about most things in a culture different than your own and in an environment nothing like the one you grew up in.
It was in this environment that Shellie and I learned we needed to develop better Christ-like character, because we were lacking in patience, joy, peace, and in many other qualities as well.
It is God’s desire to help us live and look like Jesus.
He invites all of us through an ongoing process where the Holy Spirit can do this work (previous article), if we are willing to follow Him through it. If we do, we have a better opportunity to “shine” Jesus, to display Him to the world.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, writes to the early church in Rome encouraging them to, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). Paul encourages these believers to live like Jesus.
This is something we must choose to do every day. It is an ongoing work. It’s not a one and done. Every day, we are to put Jesus on. But how do we do that? What does that look like?
The examples Shellie and I have come from our work in Jerusalem (previous article). The believers there, who are of Muslim background, have made a commitment to “ish issa.” Translated, this means that they are committed to “Live Jesus.” They are committed to “put on” Jesus everyday in four very important ways.
1. To live Jesus is to be who Jesus was.
Who was Jesus? He was a lot of things, but one that stands out is that He was a humble servant. We find Jesus, in a final meal with His disciples, washing their feet. This was a duty reserved for the lowest servant in a household. Yet, Jesus, the Son of God, washes the disciples feet as an example for them to follow. He asks them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)
How are you doing serving others? How are you doing serving your family, your neighbors, and work colleagues? To live Jesus is to be a humble servant.
2. To live Jesus is to do what Jesus did.
What kinds of things did Jesus do? He took time to fast and pray. We see that Jesus began His ministry by spending forty days in prayer and fasting (Luke 4:1-13). We find in Luke chapter 5 that Jesus often went away in solitude to pray (Luke 5:16). If Jesus needed to spend time in prayer, how much more do we?
What else did Jesus do? He ate with people. As you read through the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you will regularly see Jesus around the table eating with people: religious people, tax collectors, Jews, Gentiles, friends, and potential enemies.
The dinner table was an important place of ministry for Jesus.
I would imagine for the three plus years the disciples were with Jesus, they would wake up in the morning and have a pretty good idea of what they would be doing that day. They would find Jesus praying somewhere, He would teach and heal people by day, and they would all wind up around someone’s table in the evening for continued teaching and ministry.
When was the last time you had someone over to your home for a meal? When was the last time you were over at someone’s home for a meal? To do what Jesus did, it is important we spend time around the table with others, from all kinds of backgrounds.
3. To live Jesus is to believe what Jesus taught.
One of the most famous collections of the teachings of Jesus comes from Matthew chapters five through seven. One of those teachings is about the importance of forgiveness. Jesus shares, “If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
The inference given is that in order for a person to be right with God (sacrifice), they must be right with others (reconciled). What a strong teaching! In a day where many Christians seem fine to live at odds with others, Jesus would say, go and be reconciled.
Before you sing another worship song to God, go and get right with that person who offended you last week.
Will we believe what Jesus taught, even when His teachings are difficult? To live Jesus, we must.
4. To live Jesus is to obey what Jesus commanded.
We find in Scripture that obedience is the love language of Jesus (John 14:15). We love Jesus as we obey His commands. What did he command? Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Love is the greatest commandment. That’s why I shared in a previous message that if any situation you are unsure of what to do (as a follower of Jesus), simply ask yourself this question, “What does love require of me?” and you’ll know what you should do.
A person who lives like this, a person who can “ish issa” or “Live Jesus,” is a person who can change the world.
How much different would our world be if every follower of Jesus: was who Jesus was, did what Jesus did, believed what He taught, and obeyed what Jesus commanded?
I would imagine we would fall in line with those early Christians who were accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6). How do I know this? Because those believers we were privileged to know in the Middle East have grown into a movement of thousands, reaching well beyond the Middle East today.
When people live Jesus, they advance the kingdom of God and change the world.
We’d Love to hear from you!
In what ways have you learned how to live like Jesus? Share your comments below.