People say that they believe that Jesus was a good teacher, without reading what he actually said. He promoted an alternative society which has changed the course of history and our future. His words challenge the way we live today, because he saw the world through different eyes.
Do we follow the teachings of Jesus?
It was a question that I asked myself recently.
His words are so radical, so different, so life-enhancing, that after 46 years,
I still find some of them challenge my attitudes & behaviour.
I have come that they may have life, and life to the full.
John 10 v 10b (NIV)
What did Jesus mean by abundant life or fullness of life?
Years ago a colleague in the staff room in the school where I was working, asked me which church I went to. I told him, 'Abundant Life Church', but he heard Abandon Life Church. We used to quip,
'Abandon life, all ye who enter here,'
BUT there are many people who believe that Christianity is like this. To become a Christian, they think that they need to give up so many things that it would be like abandoning the life that they are leading.
Well I suppose it depends on what kind of life you are living!
Throughout the centuries Christians have abandoned a normal life to become a nun or a hermit, or even to live at the top of a pillar in the desert!
Is this what Jesus meant by the words -
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Matthew 16 v 24b -25
Is this a paradox?
As Christianity has advanced throughout the world there have been casualties. The Kingdom of Heaven doesn't spread through warfare, but with love, acts of service and by preaching the Good News and in some places through the example of the sacrifice of Christian martyrs.
In recent times there have been martyrs, for example in Iran, Turkey and the Middle East. During the Reformation, there were martyrs in Europe. William Tyndale, who translated the first printed bible into English, was one of them.
Some Christians have given their lives to spread the Gospel through the world. Henry Martyn died alone at the age of 32 in the Ottoman Empire as he returned from Persia, where he had translated the Bible into Persian.
These are exceptional stories of sacrifice, but all Christians are called to give their earthly lives in the service of God and their neighbours. Christians have always taught that our lives are not our own and that we need to give our Lord control. Otherwise Jesus is our Lord in name only!
It is giving that we receive
It is by loving that we understand the meaning of love
It is in losing our life, that we find it
Throughout this series we have looked at Jesus' teaching. It was radical in the first century and it is radical today. His teaching on the Kingdom of Heaven is counter-cultural in every society. He shows us an alternative way of life - life as God intended - fullness of life.
All words have power, but Jesus' words are powerful and creative.
His words are full of life and Spirit.
Jesus has the words of eternal life.
Fame & Wealth
The powerful, rich and famous are not the most important people on earth
being popular is a bad thing
be happy if people reject and hate you because of Jesus
it's bad if everyone says good things about you
leaders are servants, not lords
it's harder to become a Christian if you are rich
seek after God, not money
don't store up surplus wealth - be generous
give and it will be given to you
be happy if you are poor & hungry - you will be satisfied
See Treasure in Heaven & Blessed not Cursed
Turn the other cheek
overcome evil with good
if possible, live at peace with everyone
help your enemies out
Made for Man
don't always follow the rules
traditions are not always good
take a day off every week
Out of the Heart
wait to see what people are like
wait to see the fruit of their lives
careless words tell us more than scripted ones
The Last will be First
This is the last blog in the series
Words of Life.
Sadly this song is a favourite for funerals...
I hope you have been enjoying my designs for a stained glass window for a room in our church. Coming up on Wednesday 18th & 25th August there are special blogs about this.