Over 2,000 years ago, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ came into the world. It was truly an event that changed the world forever. But have you ever really thought, “Why did Jesus come to us?” If you were to ask someone on the street, familiar answers you could hear may include, to die on the cross, to bring us to God, to save sinners, to give us eternal life, or to be a “good teacher.” These are all certainly things Jesus did after He came to earth, but what was the purpose for it all? More importantly, what are we, as believers, supposed to do with it?
Back in the Garden of Eden man was separated from God because of sin. And, to put it simply, Jesus came to reestablish our broken relationship with God. He did so by providing the way for our sin to be removed, thus making it possible for us to be reconciled to God. He paid the price by His blood sacrifice on the cross. His death made it possible for us, through faith in Him, to receive eternal life. The life of God. The life of the resurrected Christ. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). And it’s a life meant to be lived!
Jesus not only taught His disciples verbally, He showed them how to live the life of God. He also commanded them to follow His example. They received the instruction for the Way to live the life of God and they were to pass it on. Jesus said to them, “Go and make disciples… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). For the disciples, teaching wasn’t just passing along information. It was making sure what was being taught was being applied in the lives of the one instructed.
The early Church understood this concept. They knew what it meant to live the “new life” (Acts 5:20), and although they were not perfect, they impacted the world in ways we seldom hear of today. They desired to be what God wanted them to be. They wanted to present themselves as “living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1), and it wasn’t easy. The early believers went against the religious status quo of their day. And going against what was always thought to be true can be very unpopular. People today might look at them as unorthodox rebels or even heretics. But they knew Jesus had given His life for them, and many ended up giving their lives for Him. They simply could not deny “the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2:1). And their example has followed them down through history.
What of us today, those of us who name the name of Jesus, and believe in Him as their Lord and Savior? Have we learned how to live for Christ? Have we even really been taught? Have we received the kind of discipleship that is reflected in our lives and seen in all we do? It’s said that “values are caught, not taught.” The implication is, in order to learn something that changes our lives, we need to constantly see it being put into practice. James says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
So what kind of examples do we learn from today? The sad truth is most examples people learn from are far from the type the Bible says we are to follow. The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do” (Philippians 3:17). He also encouraged Timothy and Titus to be examples for others to imitate. “Be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1Timothy 4:12). “Make yourself an example of good works with integrity and dignity in your teaching” (Titus 2:7).
Jesus taught us in Luke 6:40, that, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Did you catch that? A fully trained follower will be like his teacher. It isn’t just knowing about Jesus that matters. It’s about knowing Him, so we can be like Him. John the Apostle wrote, “The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). As believers in Jesus Christ, I pray we would become living examples of the new life God has given us and show the reason why He came. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). May God help us all to live the life He has given us. May God bless!
(Excerpt from the book: Off Course! The Perilous Voyage of The Church)