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I have started co-teaching a Sunday school class with a friend at church. The class is about missions. After a few weeks of laying a solid foundation of the biblical theology of missions, this last Sunday I started getting into the “nuts and bolts” of how Christians should live their everyday lives. In regards to each component of the Christian life, I am often amazed at the simplicity of the example we get from Scripture. The principles for Christian living are so beautifully elementary but unfortunately can get lost in the midst of our fast-paced commercial society. Our Western bent is to overcomplicate or try to accessorize what has already been made perfect.
When we started this study, we looked in the book of John and at the life of Jesus for our example of how to live our own lives, whether it be on some remote mission field or at home in the United States. What was the model that the Lord Jesus presented to us? Let us look at three things.
First off we see that He came and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Jesus came to “tabernacle” with mankind. Just as Yahweh “tabernacled” in the midst of the Jewish people on their way to Canaan, Jesus made His dwelling among mankind. He lived among, ate with, worked alongside, and traveled with people. In the concrete relational Jewish culture of the time, relationships were vital and people lived their lives closely connected to the neighbors and villagers. We too live among people. For missionaries targeting an unreached people group, we must go and live among them. For those of us who stay in our home culture, we live in a neighborhood or apartment complex with neighbors.
As we think about discipleship, there are two key factors: proximity and time. All Christians are to make disciples and, as we do this, we will have the most impact on those that we live close to (proximity) and those whom we spend time with (time). As Jesus had the biggest impact on those He came in contact with and those He spent time with, we too will have the biggest influence on those who are close to us. Our family, neighbors, and those we go to school with, work with, or interact with in some way will be the ones we can influence the most.
The second thing we see is that Jesus lived truth. He modeled the correct way to live. He loved and obeyed God, and He loved and served others. He consistently walked the talk, worked hard and finally sacrificially gave His life as a ransom for His people. The book of John gives many examples of when Jesus lived truth. In feeding the 5,000 (John 6) and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11), we see his compassion and care as he met physical needs. We see Jesus stand for truth as He turned over the tables of the money changers (John 2). Jesus also modeled prayer (John 17) and servant leadership as He washed His disciples feet (John 13).
So how does this apply to us? We must also live truth. Our actions will show others what we believe and what our convictions are. Are we standing for truth in our culture? Do our actions line up with our words? As we live our lives before people, it is so important that we model a lifestyle that is pleasing to God. We need to give people a tangible example of what a godly life looks like. It will be a life that shows love, kindness, and mercy yet stands up for God and the principles of His Word no matter what opposition may come.
As Jesus lived among mankind, He not only lived truth but also taught truth.
Jesus took every opportunity to teach people the way to be made right with God. He taught about eternal life and how to be born again. Looking in the Gospel of John again, we see examples of Jesus teaching religious leaders (John 3), unbelieving Jews (John 8), and His closest friends (John 14) what they must believe and do to be His disciples.
So we see that Jesus gave us examples of demonstration and proclamation. He balanced both of these things—living and teaching truth. We must also do this. If we only demonstrate Christian love but don’t explain the way to be made right with God, we are only going halfway. On the other hand, it is difficult to preach truth to people that we have no relationship with. We must earn the right to speak and then speak when the Lord gives us opportunity.
Jesus was our perfect example when He modeled these three principles for living our Christian lives. As we follow in Christ’s footsteps and “tabernacle” among those whom God has put around us, we can point people to Him by living our lives in a way that lines up with His teachings. And then when God opens a door, we should teach about the good news and watch God’s Spirit work in the hearts and minds of our friends and family.
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