Image courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chrisroll / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

{1 John 2:6; NLT}

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

The idea that many people have of faith is the idea of belief. To have faith requires believing certain things about God, the universe, and ourselves. What this means, for many people, is that in order to be a Christian you have to believe certain teachings like God is trinity, God’s creation of the universe, and the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

There is no doubt that belief is a part of faith, but faith is more than just believing the right truths.  I would say that belief is the foundation of faith. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul wrote; But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:14; NLT)

Saving faith comes from hearing the Gospel, the message that God’s Kingdom is breaking into this world through Jesus, believing that message, and surrendering our lives to God. Without belief faith would be impossible.

I think it is important to point out that Biblical faith is more than belief. Belief is the foundation of faith, but for faith to mature requires action. This is how faith is lived out. Our conduct, the words we say, and the way we treat those around us will show the world our faith.  This is the point James made when he wrote:

So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

James 2:17-18; NLT

If our beliefs are not affecting the way we live, then we do not really have faith.  True faith guides our choices and our conduct.

John, in 1 John 2:6, makes it clear that we need to live the way Jesus lived if we are going to honestly say we are part of God’s kingdom  This is hard to do when we are not able to physically observe Jesus’ day to day life, and thus not able to observe His life.  So how do we “live the way Jesus lived”?

  1. We need the right image of Jesus. To help us develop this right image of Jesus we need to spend time in the Gospels.  The Gospels are the record we have of Jesus’ life and they reveal to us the compassion he had for people, the lessons that he taught, the prayers that he prayed, the temptations he experienced, and the purpose he had for life.  To take this a step further we need to do what we can to learn the historical context of Gospels.  What was life like in the first century?  How would the original listeners hear Jesus’ words?  These are important questions we need to answer if we are going to fully understand the life of Jesus.
  2. We need to pray. There is no way we can discover who Jesus is on our own.  We could spend the rest of our lives studying and learning about first century Judaism, and still not get a complete image of Jesus.  This is why we need to surrender our lives to God and ask for guidance.  One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into truth, and that includes helping us discover who Jesus is and what he taught. Without the help of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, our image of Jesus would remain incomplete.
  3. We need to apply what we know to our lives. This is not an easy task.  Anyone who has resolved to change knows that it does not come easily.  Most people give up before transformation is complete.  The way we begin to apply the life of Jesus to our lives is through spiritual disciplines.  These disciplines include prayer and Bible reading, but there are many more.  Meditation is focused reflection on a truth that we have received, usually after we have read Scripture.  Giving is being generous with God’s blessings.  Serving is showing compassion to people who are in need.  Take some time to learn about various spiritual disciplines Christians have used for spiritual formation in the past, and look for ways to make them a part of your life.

Our faith is seen through the way we live our lives.  For us who follow Jesus this requires that we live in the same manner that Jesus lived.  Living like Jesus does not come easy. It is something that is developed through intentional action.  As we grow more like Jesus, the more authentic our faith becomes to those around us.  In the end our lives become the very evidence people need to believe in Jesus.

Questions to consider:

  • If we are going to claim the name Christian, why is it important for us to live like Jesus?
  • Where did you get your image of Jesus? Are there things about that image that you need to change to conform more with the image found in Scripture?
  • Why is prayer vital in our pursuit to live like Jesus?
  • What spiritual discipline have you found helpful in changing your life?

 

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