Teaching people to seek Christ is an essential element of our faith. Indeed, we cannot do it if we do not first have this encounter and relationship with Christ. The worst deception is to believe we live as people of faith but in reality, we know nothing about the Christ that we claim to follow.
This is one of the reasons why I really do not like the mentality based on us doing what would Jesus do. We cannot know what Jesus would do if we do not first know Jesus. So, we have to know Jesus to understand what he would do.
The best example of this is to believe that Jesus would be the nicest guy. He was not. Sure, many who followed Him may have considered him nice although they would be appalled by the word. Others hated him. How do you think he ended up on the cross. One saying I use all the time is: “Jesus did not die on the cross because he said ‘Have a nice day one too many times.”
He challenged the status quo, he literally and figuratively tipped over carts. Angrily railing against a cultural religion, He decried that it lost its transcendent dimension. He did all these things. He angered people so much that they conspired and plotted and planned to kill him.
He was not a nice guy in their mind. He was a rebel, a rabble-rouser, a trouble-maker and more. They hated him for it. Let me repeat that—they hated him for it.
This the Jesus that many consider the nice guy.
He always called people to repentance. He did not just wave at people and make them feel good, he called them to repentance. Those who listened, heard him speak gently and those who did not, he confronted. He embarrassed them, challenged and undermined them. He confronted those who refuse to repent and continued on their path of sin or he just ignored them.
So, any time we say Jesus was a nice guy and leave it at that, we speak a false sense of Jesus.
We can only have a true sense of Jesus when we truly know him and we are truly in touch with him and that experience changes our life to the foundations of every decision we make.
Let me give you an analogy.
One of the great technological and business geniuses of the twentieth century was of course Steve Jobs. Now before I continue, I am not going to say Jobs was another Jesus. So, don’t worry.
Steve Jobs as head of Apple, especially the second time, was a master at running his company and leading it into the twenty-first century. However, you may know that he suffered from pancreatic cancer and, of course, since there is only one pancreas people do not normally survive from it. When he died, the immediate question would be who would replace him and of course, it was Tim Cook. What was it that people wanted to know about him?
It was not how smart he was. It was not about how many iPhones he had, or what he looked like or how he spoke, it was how well he incorporated Steve Jobs’ mindset into his leadership ability as head of Apple. How much was he like Steve Jobs?
They wanted to know how much he worked with Steve Jobs, how much he thought like him, how much he acted like him. They wanted him to be the new Steve Jobs.
Granted, no one can be exactly like another person but I think you can get my drift.
This has to be our understanding of Jesus. We need to be in a relationship with Jesus every day so that we can live as he calls us to live. Not as we think he wants us to live. We need to know him to be like him. We cannot be like him the way we think he would want us to be.
Jesus resurrected from the dead. Jesus is alive. Jesus is real and we seek to know him intimately in our lives. The more we do, the more we grow to be like him and the less we do the more we grow unlike him.
If we experience Jesus daily, we will know him daily.
Further, we need to listen to him and hear what he says through his word, through his community and through our prayer.
One of the teachings of Jesus is that everything focuses on the Father. He reminds us that God is Our Father. That means that he is one to be obeyed but also to be approached when things go wrong. He will also discipline us when we need it and the more we submit to this the more we grow in Christ.
We are all sinners and so none of us is perfect. However, let us take the father's teaching more deeply in that light.
Children are not perfect. They make mistakes. They do bad things. Sometimes without thinking and sometimes thinking clearly. Regardless, it is the parent who corrects the child and teaches him or her how to be an adult man or woman.
When the child does wrong, the parent comes in and disciplines his son or daughter so that the child will know right from wrong and do the right thing. What happens if the parent does not do this? The child will grow up to be a feral human being doing good and bad without a full understanding of either. So, the parent must correct the child. When the child gets into big trouble the parent must discipline the child but also be there to support him or her so that they may receive discipline but they know it is done in love and that they are still loved.
If the children really understand that their parents love them then they will reach out to the mother or father when they understand they are getting into trouble. They will seek protection of what will come if they are not stopped. They need the parent to stop them.
This too is our relationship with Jesus and through Him, the Father.
We too when we fail, even miserably can come to God as a father and say: “I need your guidance and your discipline.” That will be not out of fear but out of love and knowing God’s love. The person will know, even if he fell miserably that God’s love, like the love of the parent who will not give up on his or her child will always be there.
This is why Jesus called him both Father and Daddy. It is Jesus who gave us the term Abba (Daddy). A term that would have been blasphemous in a culture that refused to even say the name of God and today they still don’t. You know you are dealing with a Jew when you see the word G-d. It reflects the Jewish understanding that you neither say nor write the name of God. So, what happens is Jesus calls us to have an intimate relationship so strong that we change that name from G-d to Daddy. Revolutionary!!
This is our relationship with the Father whom we approach even in our darkest moments knowing there will be discipline but also administered with love.
When difficulty happens, no matter how minor and gravely serious, just as the child may approach the father, even as a last resort, so must we but not as a last resort.
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