Keep it real by following Jesus' teachings
June 22, 2018
During one of Billy Graham’s meetings in England many years ago, his wife Ruth Graham had joined him. On that particular day, the local dignitaries had arranged for a luncheon and many of the leading citizens of the area were invited. Ruth Graham ended up sitting across the table from an official at Scotland Yard. While talking to him, Mrs. Graham found that he was in charge of investigating counterfeit money that passed through a wide area of London. He was considered an expert in spotting counterfeit currency.
In making conversation Mrs. Graham remarked to the man, “You surely must have seen many a counterfeit bill in your career.”
His answer was not what Ruth Graham expected. He responded, “No, actually I always make a practice of only studying the real money, then that way I know a counterfeit bill when I see one.”
There is a spiritual parallel to the concept of real verses counterfeit. The reality is that those who profess to be followers of Christ should exhibit a lifestyle that is not counterfeit but one that genuinely reflects Christ within them.
Followers of Christ should imitate the real thing — Jesus Christ. And how do we do that? First, we can focus on what Jesus taught us. Second, we make a heart commitment to follow what he taught us.
What did Jesus teach us by his example? First, Jesus taught us what love really is. Christ is the Exemplar when teaching about love. Those who love the Lord should aim to imitate Christ’s love to everyone each day. From relationships at home to business to social life, followers of Christ who have authentic faith reach out and respond in everyday situations based on not only what Jesus said but what he did. He said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
So as Christians, to whom are we to reach out? Jesus commanded us to reach out to the hungry, those who are thirsty, and those who are strangers, those who need clothes, those who are sick and those who are in prison. (Matthew 25:35-40)
What is the next thing Jesus taught us by example? When it comes to conflict with enemies, the world says to stand your ground, get even, settle the score and give them what they deserve. Yet, Jesus said the opposite. Jesus’ entire life modeled forgiveness. He was the atonement for our sin, and his death on the cross was so that mankind’s sins might be forgiven. What Jesus said about enemies is just the opposite of what the world says: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28).
Jesus also taught us not to judge or condemn others for sin in their own lives. He did not condemn the woman at the well, Zacchaeus for cheating the people out of money or the woman caught in adultery. Jesus reached out to all three of them. Jesus said:” How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)
Further Jesus came not to condemn people but to save people. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)
Fourth, Jesus taught us to be authentic. Jesus called out hypocrisy in those who relied on their own perceived worthiness before God. Recognizing Jesus as Savior and committing one’s life to him changes one’s personal standard. We then view ourselves in light of the supreme standard and submit ourselves to him.
Todd Wilson summed it up well when he wrote: “Christians bear the marks of authentic faith in ways that can be seen, heard, and felt. When you know what you’re looking for, you can see the marks of real in their lives — and in your own.” (“What Does it Mean to be Real?” Desiring God, November 6, 2014).
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: [email protected]