At the end of last year, I began to look afresh into the lifestyle of Jesus and having taught and written on the subject of lifestyle for many years, was surprised at how challenging His life was.
Now we know of course that Jesus is a lot more to us than a role model and an example, He is Saviour, Redeemer, Creator, Lord and King. In John 1.1 It says, ‘In the beginning was the Word (Capital W- in other words Jesus), and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ Jesus is God.
But He is indeed also our role model. There are many people and groups, who may not even believe in God, but are so impressed and influenced by His alternative lifestyle that they seek to emulate Him, if not as God, then as an exceptional teacher and life example.
One of my first observations was how impartial Jesus was and how He treated everyone equally, He was no ‘respecter of persons’.(1 Peter 1.17) At a time of great inequality, Jesus was impartial and treated all the same, the rich, the poor, the old, children, the sick, the sinner, the leper, women and strangers and foreigners.
In the story in John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a village well and begins a conversation with her. First of all, the Jews consider it improper for a rabbi to speak to a woman in public and the attitude of the disciples at the end of the narrative confirms this. When they returned from the village, it says, ‘they were surprised to find Him talking to a woman.’
But she was more than a woman; she was a Samaritan woman, with historical animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. Then the third strike against this woman was she was a woman with questionable morals, who had had five husbands and the man she was now living with, was not her husband!
We have to be truthful here and say how easy and even understandable it would have been for Jesus to avert his eyes, to give a tiny non-committal smile and a nod, He was after all tired from His journey, but Jesus got right in there and had a deep, meaningful, revealing and relationship building conversation with her.
Even in those days of massive inequality and discrimination, Jesus cut through it all. He refused the norm and even the customs of His generation and was not sexist, racist or judgmental.
Even if we can pride ourselves on our attitude to the ‘have nots’, but how do we fare with the ‘have it alls’? The rich, the educated, the famous, the influential, the well spoken, sometimes these are the outcasts in our churches. Let’s remind ourselves, it may be difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,(Mark 10.23) but it definitely is not impossible, not only would they be an asset to the Kingdom and the church, but they need Jesus too,