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21st Century Evangelicalism

Jesus, Our Great Example

The aim of all Christians is to be more like Jesus, which is the basis for many of our prayers and why we wear WWJD bracelets.

What Would Jesus Do? That is the question.

This blog will explore Jesus’ personality style so we can all consider how Jesus might respond to the situations we face so we can, in fact, make adjustments in ourselves to be more like him.

Jesus Was Dominant and Decisive

For example, in John 2:13-17, when Jesus cleared the temple, the Bible says, “Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple.” Here Jesus stood up for what was right. He was not controlled by fear and he boldly spoke the truth. We see that he was definitely a strong, determined man when he needed to be.

Jesus was dominant like this in several biblical accounts. In Luke 23 Jesus defiantly refused to answer Herod’s questions, and in Matthew 21 Jesus explained to the religious leaders that the Kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to others. He didn’t negotiate with them. Actually, he was decisive and direct as he told them that they would be broken and crushed if they didn’t start responding to God properly. This determined personality of Jesus is one of the reasons the Bible encourages all of us to fear God.

Remember this description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13b-17a:

He (Jesus) was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

When I (John) saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the Living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.’

Based on the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, he was like this — dominant and decisive –about 10% of his ministry, but I’ve seen many times when strong Christians exhibit these behaviors, they are accused of being too harsh, demanding, or unkind. Certainly, some times those accusations are correct. But when we’re Spirit-filled and want to be like Christ, the reality is there are times when we need to be strong, determined, and decisive. It might appear or feel unkind, but in fact being determined might be the personality of Christ in us. Modern Evangelical culture equates niceness with godliness, but that’s not always the case. Based on Jesus’ example, there are times when we need to have more firm resolve and determination to be like Jesus.

Jesus Entertained and Inspired Others

In John 2:1-11, Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding by creating better wine. I know some struggle with Jesus having a good time, or that he would provide high quality wine so others would have a good time, but obviously, Jesus enjoyed people. He loved to tell stories (we call them parables), he had a great sense of humor (intentionally surprising people by beaming in and out of situations after he rose from the dead, and then piously saying, “Peace be unto you.”), and he provided loads excitement and fun for his generation and every generation since. Some people find it hard to accept that Jesus was fun, but he was.

We are made in God’s image and likeness, and according to the Reality Therapists, one of our five basic needs is fun. We were created by him to be like him, which means some of us need to lighten up more often. I think Jesus chose people he knew he would enjoy when he chose his disciples. We know Jesus’ ministry lasted approximately three and a half years, or 1,000 days. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us accounts of approximately fifty of those days. So what was he doing during the other 950 days? I think a large portion of those days were spent with his disciples doing what young men do – they enjoyed life. They walked, ate, fished, joked, camped, and in the midst of that, Jesus taught them as he performed signs, wonders, and miracles.

Jesus enjoyed multiplying the loaves and fishes, playing with children, cloaking himself and then revealing himself on the road to Emmaus, appearing suddenly in the locked, hidden room after the resurrection, confounding the scribes and Pharisees, befriending and respecting the hated and rejected, while respecting women and others who were scorned. And, of course, telling great stories along the way.

He was sent by God to destroy the works of the Devil. The Devil has never had a good sense of humor – but since Jesus did, it gave Jesus a huge advantage with people. Jesus was inspiring and influential wherever he went because he was interactive and interested in people. He was not aloof, distant, harsh with children or untouchable. He was delightful to the crowds.

Although he was not always this way, it appears he was having fun and enjoying himself and others about 30% of the time. No doubt, he was able to be the life of the party when he wanted to be, a fact that is often overlooked in our seminaries and pulpits. To see him this way may feel inappropriate, but in fact, a frank reading of the Gospels reveals that Jesus was popular not just because of the miracles, but also because he was pleasant and enjoyable to be with.

So if we want to be like Christ, we need to lighten up, enjoy folks, have fun, and let the Holy Spirit produce the love, joy, and peace that passes understanding and that causes us to laugh easily.

Jesus Was Stable, Secure, and Supportive

This expression of Jesus’ personality, and the next one I discuss, is much more acceptable in the pastoral and seminary communities. Often Jesus demonstrated God’s desire to help others by healing the sick and showing compassion to them.

Jesus also encouraged us to have supportive attitudes toward others when he washed his disciples’ feet, and then told them to wash each other’s feet, and when he said, slaves are not greater than their masters. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message, or when he said,

Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son and Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

These ideas provide security to all of us, helping us to understand that we are important to God—which gives stability to all of our lives.

I think about 35% of the time, Jesus demonstrated that he valued people and treated them with kindness and respect. And obviously, he loved us all so much that he gave his life for us. That is the ultimate demonstration of being supportive of others—to give our all for them. When we pray to be like Jesus, we often ask God to use us. Well, at least 35% of the time we can count on others needing our support. That is a privilege. Serving others is a way to be like Jesus.

And finally,

The Careful Jesus

When Jesus was dealing with the leading priests and the teachers of religious law in Luke 20, he was cautious and calculating. I enjoy teaching his encounters like this one, because he is so careful in his responses and he demonstrates that he is contemplative and extremely competent in dealing with his enemies.

In Matthew 22 he shocked the world with his wisdom when he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Then in Mark 12 when asked about certain technicalities in Scripture, he demonstrated a greater knowledge of them than the leading teachers of his day. He was not ill-informed in these situations. He knew what he was saying, and did so with such wisdom and authority that he persuaded the majority of the world’s population that he is, in fact, God’s Son.

Jesus knew when to speak and when to be silent. He often answered questions with more probing questions. He could thoughtfully discern the heart of every issue and, as a result, he proved his unsurpassable wisdom. He seemed to be in this careful mode about 25% of the time. When in this mode, he was very detailed and precise. He was careful not to push the boundaries of truth.

So this is what being like Jesus looks like: some of our time we’ll need to drive the tasks we believe are important, some of our time we’ll spend enjoying people, much of our time we’ll be keeping things stable and steady, and the remainder of our time will be spent carefully guarding correct thinking. Anyone with normal cognitive abilities can be more like Jesus if we respond according to the situations we are in and strive to excel in each of these personality styles.

During this time of concern about Covid-19, we need to focus on being like Jesus. This means we need to be decisive in certain situations, help others lighten-up in others, provide consistent stability for many, and be sure than anything we say to others is precisely correct. Jesus’ personality characteristics can keep our lives consistent and helpful to others. Let’s all be more like Jesus in every situation and demonstrate what Jesus would actually do — now that we know.

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Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.