A better way

When I was a kid growing up, I used to enjoy building model airplanes and cars.  These models were the ones that came in the box with hundreds of pieces that had to be glued together with this special model glue that came in a tube.  I would use a toothpick to apply the glue to the pieces and would have to sometimes wait for hours before continuing while a certain section of the model's glue took time to dry.  For a young kid, this waiting period wasn't always easy.  There were many times I would lose patience and continue with the construction without letting the glue dry or I would bypass certain steps in the instructions because I thought I knew a better way.  It was at those times that my models turned out less than perfect and these models often wound up being the main characters in crash up scenes with my action figures or Black Cat firecrackers.

It's kind of funny (and tragic at the same time) how many times in my life that I have plunged down my own path thinking that my way is far better than what God or anyone else could show me.  Too stubborn to listen to reason, I would jump head first into situations that would quickly overwhelm me or leave me with a bruised ego at best and missed opportunities at worst.  Looking back over those many times of trial-and-error (mostly error), my hope is that I have learned from these tough lessons in life and am able to sit and listen more readily to the voice and wisdom of God.

Taking a cue from Jesus Himself, this was exactly what the disciples were trying to grasp as they traveled and ministered with Jesus.  In what is known as "The Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew's gospel, Jesus unloads a truckload of teaching and truth on His followers that was like a mini-revolution to their ears and hearts.  Matthew 5:21-48 in particular contains a section of Jesus' discourse in which He says on multiple occasions, "You have heard that it was said...But I tell you..."  Jesus was reminding them about what had been written and said in times past, but that He now was bringing to them a better way of living and loving God.

Much of what the Jews believed in Jesus' day was based upon their own interpretations of the Law, what we refer to today as the first five books of the Old Testament.  They would often go beyond what was written and add their own little twist to it.  For instance, in Matthew 5:43 Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy."  The love your neighbor part was true--He was quoting from Leviticus 19:18 when He said that.  The hate your enemy part...not found anywhere in the Law or the rest of the Bible for that matter.  What the Jews had done was added that in there so that they wouldn't have to love anyone that they didn't want to love.  But Jesus was bringing to them a better way, one that carried them away from dead and unbiblical religion into a radical and new way of living life for God.

Jesus always offers us a better way.  In churches today we, too, can become far too comfortable with our preferences and interpretations that we fall away from what Scripture actually teaches.   Studying the teachings of Jesus and honestly applying them to your life with integrity is difficult, because so much of what He asks of His disciples are those things that we are least comfortable with.  You can go your own way and live a life of mediocrity, or you can embrace the better way of Christ and live a life of fullness.

1 comment:

TP said...

Thank you. My prayer is that as followers of Christ we will not settle for less than the fullness God has for us. Mediocrity and complacency are the devils playground.

The honest hypocrite

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