The question we need to answer is “What did Jesus do that we aren’t and should be repenting of not doing?” If ever there was a question that would make most Christians go ouch it is this. After all how many of us have walked on water, raised the dead, fed 5000 people from one packed lunch or healed the sick. If that was too much then there was the simpler stuff like running the family business, discussing theology with experts and praying all night.
We are different surely
True but maybe not as different as you might think. All the things I listed above were done while Jesus was living as a man. He did not have any special privileges at this stage. This was the time when He was living as an example to us. He was showing us how to live.
Yes in the eternal scheme of things He was very different. He started differently with that complicated idea of having two fathers and a mother who married after she became pregnant. Put it like that there are people like that today. The only thing was that one Father was God and that there was no fornication involved.
I suppose He was different to many of us because He had a head start. He lived in an environment where he could develop spiritually from a young age. The Bible talks of his parents following religious practices on his behalf when he was a few days old. He lived, worked and breathed in an environment where he could grow spiritually.
My parents were good people (and still were are) when I was growing up but I did not quite have Jesus’s advantages early in life. Hold on a moment, I don’t suppose all the disciples did either. Yet we see them “doing the stuff” as well. Oops, bang goes that excuse.
Jesus was special but so are we
Once He had spent three years teaching us how to live He did do something special. Something that did give Him special rights and privileges in heaven. Something that gives us special rights and privileges to be like he used to be on earth.
Without the whole betrayal, trial, crucifixion and resurrection process we would not be able to become children of God. It is that which makes it possible to become adopted into God’s family and become co-heirs with Christ.
Of course, it has to be our choice. If we do choose to be adopted into God’s family on earth then surely we have the same relationship Jesus had to God while He was teaching and preaching. Umm, that rather demolishes the excuse of Jesus having a special relationship with God as Father to so special things. We have exactly the same special relationship.
So what are our real excuses
We humans are really good at coming up with reasons why we should not do things. Remember those teachers who did not accept our reasons for not doing homework saying that they were only excuses. Calling them excuses meant that they did not accept our reasoning for why we did not do our homework. Do any of the following things sound familiar?
Excuse one – not in my church
No one told me I could or should be doing this. After all, this does not happen in my church. Anyway, the church today is very different to what it was like shortly after Jesus left them to their own devices. There is the liturgy and the hymns and the bells. We have things much more structured and organised than they did.
Given the way the religious leaders responded to Jesus do you think that this happened when Jesus got together with other God-followers in the synagogues? He went out and “did the stuff” while in the great outdoors. He saw people in need while He was walking from place to place and worked wonders to change their lives. He went to places where people in need might gather such as the Pool of Siloam and helped those His Father told him to help in the way that He was told to help them.
These things did not just happen in the religious community centres like churches they happened outside that building. This could be the home or the workplace even on the streets. How does this compare to what we do? Personally, I say ouch and double ouch!
Excuse two – I don’t know how
There is no one to help me learn. How did Jesus learn? Doing the stuff after spending time in prayer. There are two challenges in that. How many of us spend as much time praying as Jesus did? How many of us build such a relationship with God to the point that He can tell us what to do and how to do it? There again how many of us have the personal courage to step out and to that things how God wants us to do them?
We actually have an advantage that Jesus the man did not have. We have a book we can read to find out what He did and how He did it. There are stories of people who read the Bible and then just go and do what Jesus did. People who have not picked up the excuse (or limiting belief) that they cannot do things because they are not like Jesus.
Excuse three – We are not good enough
Some of us see so many of our imperfections that we wonder what on earth God could do with our help. What is worse we behave like Adam. We move away from God because we are ashamed of who we see ourselves to be. But what did God do with Adam? He wanted to be close to him so He made a way for Adam to be covered. It took God shedding the blood of an animal so Adam was able to cover himself with its skin. If ever there was a picture of God covering our sin with blood and making us look good in his eyes by providing us with something to wear this is it.
There are times when like with Adam and Eve that our eyes are opened to what we could or should be. If we respond like Adam and Eve and shy away then how can God help us? He already knew our imperfections so it was not news to Him. Nothing has changed from His perspective.
It has from our perspective because we know what we need help with. It is our choice whether or not we receive the help we need. If we stand still and ask for help then we will get the help we need. That means that we need to trust that God is willing to help us.
He will help us as long as we are willing to work with Him. The proof that we are willing to let him comes in our repentance. In other words, we have to show that we really are willing to change. We can only change if we acknowledge what we need to change from i.e. admit how far we have fallen from His expectations. We need to take responsibility for what we have not done and then choose to do what we have not done. Once there is proof of repentance then He can restore us.
Back to the initial question i.e. What did Jesus do we are not and that we should be repenting of?
Let’s be real here Jesus walked around parts of Israel preaching and teaching. I don’t know about you but I have never been to Israel. Apart from a few holidays why whole life has been spent in the UK. That is not a problem I am one who has gone into all the world rather than staying in Israel.
I don’t go around preaching and teaching. I sit and write down the ideas I believe God has given me to share. There are things that I find easier than others and I use my gifts for God. Well, it would be a bit difficult for Jesus to sit here and type because there were no such things as computers while he was on the earth.
That is no problem either as long as I am in the right place and doing the right things according to God’s expectations of me. I am given instructions to carry out and I need to follow them. I am presented with opportunities to do things for Him and I need to take advantage of them.
Yet despite trying to do all that I still cannot get rid of that nagging feeling that there is something more. I suppose that is what Jesus meant when He said that the hungry will be fed. It is definitely what the writer of Proverbs meant when he said that it is those who have an appetite for more who will do what it takes to satisfy that appetite.
I don’t know what more looks like for you. I do have some ideas what it looks like for me. I also know that we need to be chasing after what God wants us to have. The only way we can do this is through prayer. We need His ideas for what we should be doing when we should be doing them, how we should be doing them etc.
Once you know what the target is you can work out how close you are to it. Then comes repentance and then a fresh start aiming for the target God wants you to reach. A fresh start where you learn from the mistakes of the past and follow God’s instructions more closely.
And me? I am a work in progress. I know the importance of chasing after God. Despite everything I have learnt and have done I am still hungry for more. That encourages me to chase after God and aim to be the best God-follower that I can be.