Following a Perfect Example

Following a Perfect Example

One day a pastor walked with a soap manufacturer down the busy streets of New York. Noticing all the advertisements, stores, and clothing promoting a life of ungodliness, the soap manufacturer remarked to the pastor, “The gospel you preach hasn’t done much good, has it? Look. There’s a lot of filth in this world.”

The pastor said nothing. The two men walked a few more blocks, taking in the sights and sounds of the crowded city. After some time of silence, the pastor casually pointed to a homeless man covered in grime, huddled in a boarded-up entryway. “The soap you sell hasn’t done much good, has it?” he reflected. “Look. There’s a lot of filth in this world.”

The soap manufacturer simply chuckled and said, “Ah, but you are wrong. Soap is only useful when it is applied.”

The pastor smiled and said, “Exactly. And so it is with the gospel.”

Jesus Christ came so that we could have life and experience it more abundantly. Yet so many people are simply trying to make it—to get by from day to day. They aren’t living in the power and strength that He came to supply. The gospel gives life, but they have not applied it.

Jesus Christ came so that we could have life and experience it more abundantly.

A lot of the defeat, fear, and worry that many believers face has to do with a misunderstanding of Christ. They misunderstand what He came to give … and how He came to give it. They don’t see how He wants us to model our lives after Him. This misunderstanding can arise because, when they look at the life of Jesus, they see things they’d rather not see: pain, rejection, endurance, obscurity, and humility.

Jesus didn’t come as a pop star or as a reality-TV king. Isaiah 53:2-3 shows us He had no stately form or majesty. He wasn’t handsome. Instead, He was despised. He knew grief and hung out with sorrow.

Jesus didn’t come as a pop star or as a reality-TV king.

This view of Jesus flies in the face of how our culture defines “the perfect man,” but as Saint Augustine said, “If you believe what you like in the gospels and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” Too often we try to tweak God’s Word to our own taste. We take what we want, leave out the rest, add a bit here, sprinkle some Jesus on top, and apply some revisionist history just for good measure. But God was clear; the promise He gave was that our Savior would be rejected by His own people. We see this in the gospels:

  • “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
  • “Then they all cried out together, ‘Take this man away!’” (Luke 23:18).

I wonder what Jesus felt as He stood there and heard those words. Have you ever felt rejection? It cuts deep. It’s a pain we can’t even adequately put into words. It takes your breath away, knocks the wind out of you. It’s a pain that lingers, causing you to doubt your own worth. So when it happens, you might try to ignore it. Eat, shop or entertain your way out of it.

But Jesus didn’t run from rejection. He knew God always has a purpose for the pain, and He willingly embraced it.

But Jesus didn’t run from rejection. He knew God always has a purpose for the pain, and He willingly embraced it. Click To Tweet
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