Let’s ask a question about Jesus’ life that may be taken for granted:
Why does Jesus teach?
Why does anyone teach for that matter? Teachers, mentors, leaders, etc.. what is the motivation and impetus to impart knowledge to others?
We know that one of Jesus’ main ministries was the ministry of teaching. From his mouth came such oratory icons as the Sermon on the Mount. He regularly gathered crowds to dispense knowledge; and in intimate settings, he would teach his disciples.
I did a thought experiment one morning and asked, “Why does Jesus teach? If I were the Son of God, very God of God, and incarnated on earth, why would I teach people?”
And then it hit me: It is because Jesus knows and lives out of an alternate reality.
He is from heaven; we are from earth. He therefore knows of a lifestyle and a way of life that earth-dwellers do not know. It is because the ways of our world, in his eyes, are often poisonous, destructive, hurtful, and are not the ways that God intended us to live.
And it is out of that that Jesus teaches, “Love your enemies, forgive others, give generously, love the poor, be the least, be reconciled to God..”
All these, over the generations of human civilization, are counter-measures to the ways of our world.
Remembering this can help us reframe what it is to read God’s word and to try to obey it. God’s teachings are not meant to supress us, to make life boring, or to kill us.
No–but exactly the opposite!
Jesus’ teachings are meant to give us life. They are meant to point us to the ways of heaven where there is crazy joy and life. They are meant to undo the damage we do as humans (e.g. sin.).
So we should listen and obey–not drudgingly, but with eagerness, knowing that the fruit of listening to his ways actually gives life to us and the world around.
And so this is what we offer to the world with our Christian obedience-a glimpse into an alternate reality. And so may our living better reflect the reality of God’s kingdom in our everyday lives.