If Jesus is only a good teacher, then He’s playing a dirty trick on us.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Jesus—Our Life, Not Our Example
In a previous article I explained how I had come to understand (through experience) what it meant to be “poor in spirit” (Mt. 5:3). It serves as great background for today’s message. As more and more church-going people desire to have their ears tickled instead of being confronted with the truth, we seem to be returning in many ways to what was known as the “Age of Enlightenment” or the “Age of Reason” prevalent in the 18th century. Its underlying philosophy was that human reason should be the primary source of knowledge. It elevated man above God, attributing to man qualities belonging only to God. It saw man as “the measure of all things.” As the knowledge of and belief in God diminished, man’s view of himself was elevated. Perhaps the most damning indictment from this “movement” was that it was called “enlightenment.”
God, however, had a different assessment:
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…
Therefore, God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:21-25).
AS I SEE IT
Today, this perverted thinking teaches Jesus only as a great teacher—one who laid out the standards we are to follow as he became our example. If anyone actually tried to live out his teachings, he would find only frustration. He would see Jesus as a mean-spirited task-master who erected standards he could never reach. Of course, those who see Jesus only as a teacher would never be motivated to actually follow his teachings. They are content with how they see him. After all, they are the measure of all things.
Study the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and you will agree that His standards do seem out of reach…even impossible. He seems to be asking for more than we have to give. Love our enemies? Really? He will continue to frustrate us until we reach the point of despair. It’s then that we discover that the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are the New Testament version of the Law in the Old Testament. The point of both is that man, in his own self-righteousness, is incapable of reaching these standards. They are meant to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we are ready to let God do for us what we are incapable of doing ourselves.
It is only when we come to God as weak, dependent beggars (poor in spirit) that we are ready to receive from Him what He has been waiting to give—the actual life of Jesus Himself—the only one capable of meeting His high standards. The “intellectual man” thinks he has all the power he needs and only needs to be taught. God calls this man a fool. The sad truth is that most Christians start their spiritual journey with the same mindset—we only need to be taught. We see Jesus only as a teacher, and not as the one whose life we desperately need. It is a great day when we come to understand that Jesus didn’t come only as a teacher, but to make us what He teaches we should be. He came to become our life, not our example.
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
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