Saturday, May 3, 2008

Whose Disciple Are You?

It’s been said from time to time that Jesus was not the only person to encourage others to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” or “Treat others the way you would want them to treat you.” In fact, no one produced that idea before Jesus. No one could have said it that way because the human mind does not work that way. That particular teaching of Jesus was as unique as any teaching of God has ever been when compared to the philosophy of humans.

You see people of the world are generally focused on NOT doing wrong things. I must not steal. I must not kill someone. I must not screw around with someone else’s partner. I must not tell lies etc. Because of that mind-set, all people, prior to Jesus, phrased the “Golden Rule” this way. “Don’t do unto other people what you wouldn’t want people doing to you.” And while it’s usually said with a smile, the more accurate yet rarely spoken creed is, “Do to other people before they get a chance to stick it to you.” You can see it in things like - Get that parking space before he gets it. There’s only one table left - go sit down while I stand in line and then order. Force your way through the sale-crowd to grab the desired object before other people take them all. Horde your money. Accumulate possessions. It’s survival of the fittest, dog-eat-dog. You snooze you lose. Atheists didn’t invent this mind-set; they simply refined it and turned it into an “intelligent” philosophy by which they believe that we should live. I'll do good to you if it will benefit me in the long-run.

What an incredible difference between that and what Jesus taught. There is a light-year of space between simply not doing something wrong and purposely doing something right. And that was the gist of Jesus’ teaching as it’s recorded in the Bible, in the record written by Matthew, chapters 5 - 7.

When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Old Testament Law, He was saying, “You guys aren’t getting it! Here’s what all those do’s and don’ts are supposed to mean. You are to treat everyone with respect and fairness. You are to directly and volitionally pursue what is best for your neighbour. Don’t just “Not steal” - give to others freely; go beyond what they need or ask for. Don’t just “Not kill,” help others to live life to the fullest. Love your enemies. Don’t just “Not commit adultery with your neighbour’s wife or husband” - view all people as much more than sexual objects. Don’t just “Not tell lies” - rid yourselves of verbal manipulation of any kind. Use words to build up and encourage.

Jesus isn’t giving a new set of rules to follow. He is literally showing his followers a way of life; an abundant life. He is saying, “If you follow me, if you become my disciple and my student, if you make it your life’s goal to become like Me I will come to you in my Spirit and strengthen you, counsel you, guide you, protect you and grow you so that day after day, year after year there will be a steady progression toward Jesus-like-ness.

Yes there is heaven at some point, but the riches of God are given to us now, if we choose to become a disciple of Jesus. The abundant life is in becoming recreated, born again, living life to the fullest as you were meant to live it. The abundant life is in being changed into someone who can look at h/herself in the mirror and not have regrets or shame.

Lord God Almighty, you alone are great, kind and merciful. Thank you.

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