"3. I am learning to be like Jesus in my attitudes, behaviours, character. 5. I am learning the teachings of Jesus."
Sevenfold Way of Following Jesus, Part 3
March 14, 2010 Luke 4:1-13 1Cor 10:1-13
SMARTER THAN SLIME MOLD?
- CBC radio's 'Quirks & Quarks': million-celled slime mold has no central decision-making faculty, yet manages to make choices between foods of varying quality, light/dark environments
- placed midway between samples - sends out 'pseudopods' to each - eventually retracts one side and gradually moves body mass when choice has been made
- 7-fold way #3 about being Christlike in our attitudes / behaviours / character:
- attitudes - our general approach / outlook, mindset, cluster of values - what's most important to us
- (dictionary) "a settled opinion or way of thinking"
- Q: how would you summarize the attitudes you did/didn't 'inherit' from your parents / grandparents? Who else was influential in the formation of your approach to life?
- behaviours: actions resulting from attitude / preferences; motor movements influenced by unseen goals
- (dictionary) "the way one conducts oneself; manners.The treatment of others; moral conduct."
- does what others observe us doing really reflect the Biblical worldview?
- character: "Character is who we are when no one is looking." Sums up our moral fibre over a long period of time; affects what you'd expect of a person based on continuous past habits.
- (dictionary) "the collective qualities or characteristics, esp.mental and moral, that distinguish a person or thing.Moral strength; reputation, esp.good reputation."
- Q: in the community(s) you've been a part of, who stands out in your mind as having exemplary 'character'? How was this proven?
- Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny."
- the Christian life is a sum of millions of subsequent decisions / choices, just like the slime mold: we're always weighing the options, what some call the 'cba' (cost-benefit analysis): unfortunately sometimes our choices are not always as predictable or true-to-nature as the slime mold's - sin tempts us and we cave in, or we yield to threatening pressures.
- from start to finish, the Christian life OUGHT to be about 'following Jesus' - walking in His path, not veering off to right or left. Thankfully in Scripture God shows us how we can increase in our 'faithful a-b-c' quotient (attitudes, behaviours, character).
BAITED BUT NOT BITING
- temptation of Jesus right at the outset of His ministry: showdown with the devil, battle lines drawn clearly as Son of God waited on the Spirit for empowerment / preparation for ministry
- representative testings in their scope: many of our day-to-day testings would fit in these 3 broad categories
- 1Jn 2:15f: "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-- the cravings of sinful man [lust of the flesh], the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and
does [boastful pride of life] -- comes not from the Father but from the world."
- 1st temptation: Lk 4:3, "tell this stone to become bread" - lust of the flesh, appetite for consumables - coupled with abuse of authority (using powers as Son of God to satisfy just His own creaturely needs).
- Jesus' reply: (quoting Scripture each time - these values are all rooted in a God-spoken approach to life) "It is written - Man does not live on bread alone." (But on every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord - Deut 8:3) All our desires are
subject to the Master Plan and scrutiny of a Sovereign God. Do our 'wants' line up with what He wants?
- (Last week) Paul talked about those being enemies of the cross of Christ whose 'god is their stomach'
- 2nd temptation - 'lust of the eyes': Lk 4:6 from high place where Tempter could show Jesus in an instant all the kingdoms of the world, offer "all their authority & splendour, for it has been given to me...if you worship me, it will all be yours." What
things seem most 'splendid' / shiny / attractive to us - tempting us to pursue and cling to at all costs, like Gollum's 'precious' ring with the power of invisibility in Lord of the Rings?
- Jesus' reply reveals it's a root issue of devotion / attachment / obedience: what we treasure & value most we will eventually start to serve, only 1 day to wake up and find it ruling over us. 4:8 "It is written - worship [ascribe supreme worth to] the
Lord your God and serve Him only."
- Q: as you look around today's culture, what top 3 small-g 'gods' do you see people worshipping? How do these end up ruling over them to their detriment?
- 3rd temptation - 'boastful pride of life / the boasting of what he has and does': 4:9 Satan tells Jesus to throw Himself down from temple's highest point and try out God's promise of protection from Psalm 91(11f) - proof-texting out of the context there of
someone who sincerely loves and acknowledges God and rests in His will rather than barging forward with a self-designed initiative.
- Jesus replies clearly saying to do that would be to 'put the Lord your God to the test' (4:12). Pride sets us up as judge & jury so we think God ought to hop to our skipping-rope. Who are we to presume we can test God, or take advantage of His
mercies for our own selfish promotion?
- in 1Cor 10, Paul outlines the sins of the Israelites in the wilderness in a way that would also broadly fit those 3 categories.
- v7, "Do not be idolaters, as some of them were": shiny idols like the Golden Calf, lust of the eyes.
- v8, "We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did - and in 1 day 23,000 of them died." That could be classed under 'lust of the flesh.'
- vv9-10 "We should not test the Lord...and do not grumble, as some of them did - and were killed by the destroying angel." Boastful pride of life. When we're proud, we like things to be under control - our control, 'cuz who else can do as good a job as
we can?! Then we grumble when others don't do it right or let us down or don't satisfy our expectation.
- Q: when have you been tempted to grumble most recently? What does that incident reveal about your priorities / lack of faith?
- back in v6 Paul heads the passage by saying, "Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did." New Living Translation describes it, "so that we would not crave evil things as they did..." That's really
where the battleground is, isn't it? What we set our hearts on - what we crave. Strong desires can tear us away from God if we're not careful.
- But Paul closes the section by reminding us we're not being tempted unusually hard; such temptations are 'common to man', everybody faces these things in some way or other. And we can trust God, he says, to 'provide a way out' when we're tempted
so we can stand up under it (v13). It becomes a matter of finding that 'way out' - what's the better alternative?
WHAT'S THE 'SOMETHING BETTER'?
- Number 3 of the Sevenfold Way of Following Jesus is about learning to be like Him in our attitudes, behaviours, character; number 5 is related - "I am learning the teachings of Jesus." If 'sow a thought / reap an action' holds true, concentrating to train our
thinking according to Jesus' teaching should lead our behaviour to resemble His example more closely.
- When the slime mold makes a decision, it opts for the choice that is better for it. So when we're tempted, we need to discern
God's 'way out' - what's the 'something better' He's got in store for us, compared to the deceptive temptation?
- I went through the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of John (the red-letter part) looking for clues to what the 'something more'
for Jesus was that kept helping Him say 'no' to the devil's ongoing temptations. I suspected it had to do with His deeply loving
relationship to His heavenly Father. I also was looking for the 'something better' we can choose thanks to our relationship with
Jesus, and having the sacred record of His teachings.
- So my 3 questions were these:
- What motivates Jesus about His relationship with the Father?
- What are the benefits for us of keeping Jesus' teaching?
- (and) What can motivate us in our relationship with Jesus? (just as He was helped by knowing the Father)
- What motivates Jesus about His relationship with the Father?
- Classic choice: Jn 12:20-32 ministry to Greek world vs. dying redemptively at hands of the 'lost sheep of the house of
Israel' (Mt 10:6, 15:24,26; Rom 15:8)
- if hate my life in this world, will keep it for eternal life (12:25)
- Jesus opts for the greater good of glorifying the Father's name rather than saving His own life (12:27f)
- what's at stake: prince of this world being judged; Jesus drawing all men to Himself (12:31f)
- [other areas in the John's gospel that give us more insight into how Jesus drew strength from His relationship with the Father]
- Jesus works because He sees the Father at work (5:17)
- Son does what the Father does as the Father loves Him and shows Him (5:20)
- Father has granted Son life in Himself, along with authority to judge (5:26f)
- Father testifies in Son's favour (5:32, 8:18 - prophecy of Scripture 5:39; voice12:28; miracles 5:36, 10:25,32; 14:11;
- Jesus came from heaven to do, not His own will, but the will of the Father who sent Him - ie not lose one of those the
Father gave Him, but raise them up at the last day (6:38ff)
- Jesus seeks to please, not Himself, but the Father who sent Him (5:30)
- Father entrusts judgment to the Son so Son is honoured just as Father is honoured (5:22)
- Jesus doesn't seek glory for Himself but honours the Father, who glorifies Jesus (8:50, 54; 11:4 e.g. raising of Lazarus;
17:1, 3f Jesus' own death/ascension)
- the Father is glorified in Jesus when the Son of Man is 'glorified' (ie crucified etc.), and God will glorify the Son in
Himself at once (13:31f)
- Jesus doesn't speak on His own, but works for the honour of the Father who sent Him (7:18); Jesus tells what He has
seen in the Father's presence (8:38)
- Jesus does nothing on His own, but speaks just what the Father has taught Him; the Father doesn't leave Him alone
because Jesus always does what pleases the Father (8:29; 16:32)
- Jesus' decisions are right because He's not alone, but stands with the Father (8:16)
- the Father loves Jesus because He lays down His life, to take it up again (10:17)
- the Father is in Jesus, and Jesus is in the Father (10:38)
- the Father always hears the Son's request (even tomb-busting! 11:41)
- when we look at Jesus, we see the Father who sent Him (12:45)
- the Father commands Jesus what to say and how to say it; Jesus doesn't speak of His own accord, but says just what the
Father has told Him to say (12:49f)
- Jesus loves the Father and does exactly what His Father has commanded Him (14:31)
- the words Jesus says aren't just His: the Father living in Jesus is doing His work (14:10, 24)
- all that belongs to the Father is Jesus' (16:15; 17:10)
- [my second question - thinking about us now, what will help us say 'no' to temptation in favour of God's 'something better']
What are the benefits for us of keeping Jesus' teaching?
- Scriptures testify about Jesus so we can come to Him to have life (5:39f)
- the words Jesus speaks to us are spirit and life (Spirit gives life; flesh counts for nothing - 6:63)
- Jesus' teaching comes from God, is self-validating to the person who chooses to do God's will (7:16f)
- if we hold to Jesus' teaching, we are really His disciples: we'll know the truth which will set us free (8:31) - esp. free
from being a slave to sin (8:34,36)
- if we keep Jesus' word we will never see death (8:51)
- if we believe (and consequently obey His command), we will see the glory of God (11:40)
- when we put our trust in our light we become 'sons of light' (12:36)
- if we hear Jesus' words but don't keep them, we will be condemned at the last day by the very word Jesus spoke; not
accepting Jesus' words is to reject Him (12:48)
- once we know His teaching, we will be blessed if we do it - do as He has done for us, follow the example He
deliberately set for us (eg foot-washing)
- Jesus' intentional 'new command' is that we love one another - that's how others will know we're His disciples
- if we love Him, we will obey what He commands, and Jesus will ask the Father to give us the Counselor / Spirit of
Truth; Jesus will love us and show Himself to us, 'make His home with' us (14:15,21,23; 15:10; 16:7)
- Jesus' word cleanses / prunes us so we can be more fruitful (15:2f)
- we are sanctified by the truth - God's word is truth (17:17)
- if we remain in Jesus, His words remain in us - then we can ask whatever we wish and it will be given (15:7)
- we are Jesus' 'friends' if we do what He commands (15:14)
- Spirit of truth brings glory to Jesus by making what's His known to us (16:14)
- those the Father gives Jesus obey God's word (17:6 - inner assurance?)
- Q: Which of these factors do you personally find most motivating to keep Jesus' teaching?
- [and the last question - paralleling Jesus the Son's relationship with the Father] What can motivate us in our relationship with
- "Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who
serves me." (Jn 12:26)
- Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us in the Father's house of many rooms; He will come back and take us to be
with Him so we may be where He is (14:2f) and see the glory the Father has given Him in love for Him (17:24)
- can come to the Father only through Jesus (14:6)
- "Follow Me" is the key to greater intimacy with Jesus, seeing greater things / His magnificence (1:43, 48, 50f)
- being born again is the way we get to see the Kingdom of God (3:3)
- believing in Jesus, we don't perish but have eternal life (3:16; 4:14; 6:40,47; 10:28; 17:3); we're not condemned (3:18);
have 'crossed over' already from death to life (5:24); don't die in our sins (8:24); can't be snatched out of His hand
(10:28); experience resurrection (11:25)
- Jesus gives living water so we never thirst (4:14); believe in Him and streams of living water will flow from within you
- Jesus is the 'bread of God' / 'bread of life' who gives life to the world (6:33,48,51) - we will never be hungry / thirsty
(6:35; 7:37); He is real food/drink - if we feed on Him, will live because of Him just as He lives because of the Father
- if we follow Jesus the 'light of the world', we won't walk in darkness but will have the light of life (8:12; 9:5; 12:46)
- "Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." (12:36)
- when we know/see Jesus, we know/have seen the Father also (8:19; 14:9); to accept Jesus is to accept the One who
sent Him (13:20)
- Jesus the 'good shepherd' knows His sheep and His sheep know Him, just as He and the Father know each other; He
lays down His life for His sheep (10:14f, 27)
- if we are Jesus' sheep, He calls us by name and leads us (10:3)
- entering through Jesus the 'gate' we will be saved, find pasture, enjoy life 'to the full' (10:9f)
- when we have faith in Jesus, we will do even greater things than He did, so the Son may continue to bring glory to the
- Jesus won't leave us as orphans (14:18) - we'll know we're in Him and He in us (14:20)
- Jesus gives us His peace, beyond what the world can give (14:27; 16:33)
- remaining in Jesus allows us to bear much fruit and thus show that we're His disciples (15:5,8)
- with Jesus, grief turns to joy (16:20)
- the Father Himself loves us when we love and believe in Jesus (16:27)
- Jesus protects us / keeps us safe by His name (17:11f, 15)
- Jesus sanctifies Himself for our sake (17:19)
- Jesus gives His disciples the glory the Father gave Him, along with compete oneness in Him (17:22f)
- Jesus continues to make the Father known to us so we may have in us the love the Father has for the Son (17:26)
- Q: Which of these benefits do you prize most highly as incentives to walk with Jesus?
TOO GOOD TO GRIPE
- Paul noted the shiny idols of pagan revelry, and grumbling against the conditions of wilderness, cost the Israelites deeply - as
warnings to us not to repeat their mistake. Ellen Vaughn writes how 'the good life' can actually tempt people more to be
- "Griping rises with income, concluded two economists who studied the U.S. and four other wealthy nations. People
who were otherwise statistically similar complained more about the 'time squeeze' as their incomes rose. 'The more
money people have,' the economists concluded, 'the more things they can do with their time; as time becomes more
valuable, they increasingly resent that they can't create more of it.' ...Gregg Easterbrook's book The Progress Paradox:
How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse, documents how as peopIe's material lives have improved dramatically,
their inner lives have declined. Depression, loneliness and frustration are all much higher than 50 years ago.
Easterbrook's prescription? Stop focusing on ourselves. Instead, concentrate on being grateful for our daily blessings,
on the deeper truths of what really matters in life, and on how we can help our neighbors around the world."
- So, as Paul wrote - "do not grumble": don't be tempted to make the same mistake as the wandering Israelites! With Jesus in
the wilderness, we can choose the 'something better' - walking with our Heavenly Father. Let's pray.