Disciples who don’t learn from their teacher aren’t disciples.
If we want to be disciples of Jesus, one thing we must do is to bring our thoughts, feelings, impulses and opinions to Jesus, our master teacher of life.
He may affirm our thinking. He may challenge our thinking. He may rebuke our thinking.
All three interactions happened with Jesus and his disciples in events recorded in the four Gospels.
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Bingo! You got it.
“Who sinned that this man was born blind?” You’re asking the wrong question.
‘Jesus we won’t let them kill you.’ “Get behind me satan.”
There are many more examples of course.
As Jesus’ disciples, we must turn to him as our teacher.
Yes, he is more than teacher, but not less. He is Lord, King, Messiah, Savior.
But he is also teacher. According to him, our only ultimately authoritative teacher. (Matthew 23:8).
This might all seem obvious. No Christian will likely claim that anything I’ve just said about Jesus being our ultimate teacher is untrue.
And yet, we must examine our lived out practice.
Is that what we actually do?
There is a question that you and I should be asking ourselves and each other CONSTANTLY:
What might the teaching and example of Jesus have to say about this?
We can and should also expand that question out to what Jesus’ apostles spoke and lived in the rest of the New Testament.
Again, all this seems obvious, but are we doing it?
I am NOT saying that this is the ONLY question that we should be asking. I’m only saying that it’s the first question that we should be asking.
Let me be bold: In this current moment that I’m writing (Covid-19 pandemic) I think we are failing pretty miserably at asking this question, first.
“What does the teaching and example of Jesus have to say about this?”
Let me give some examples. I will not tell you in this post which teaching of Jesus, if any, I think may speak into any of these.
I only ask this: If you’ve been saying or thinking any of these things, have you asked the question of your thoughts? “What does the teaching and example of Jesus say to this?”
My goal here is to share examples from the range of comments or thoughts that I’ve heard, not to single our one way of thinking. Remember Jesus challenges everyone’s thinking…
‘I shouldn’t have to wear a mask at the store.’
‘The most important thing is that I protect my health.”
‘The governor is a clueless jerk (or worse) who wants to take away our rights.’
“We need to stand up and fight for what we believe in.”
“I’m afraid that if we don’t all stay home, the virus will wipe us out..”
“The government is trying to see how much they can control us.”
Now answer me honestly, if you have said or thought these things (or really whatever your thoughts have been.
Have you asked the question? What might the teaching and example of Jesus say in response to my thoughts or words?
Sometimes we might not be able to think of anything. But we should ask.
There are some thoughts we have (hopefully) that the teaching of Jesus will affirm. There are some thoughts we might have that he would rebuke.
There are probably many thoughts that he would ask a question of to get us to think more deeply about what’s really most important.
Again, I’m not saying that the Jesus question is the only question.
For those of us who live in the United States, asking how our Constitution speaks to something is a totally valid question for us to ask.
But here’s a direct word that might sound harsh, but I think it’s true:
What you think about BEFORE you think about how Jesus would respond, you are showing what really guides your thinking most in real life.
The current reality could be that we think about our safety before we think of Jesus.
Or it could be that we think about our rights before we think about Jesus.
Whatever it is, it’s an opportunity to grow as his disciple. To seek his kingdom first.
If you think about this and realize it might be true that you put something else before Jesus in your thinking, don’t feel bad. It happened with Jesus’ disciples CONSTANTLY.
Their instinct was to think about the geographical, political reality on the ground. Their instinct was to think about themselves first.
But Jesus constantly sought to reorient their thinking toward another kingdom.
And he still wants to do that today.
He wants to teach you and me to seek FIRST his kingdom.
Yes, we can also attend to the political realities in our communities state and nation. Yes, we can also keep ourselves as safe as we can.
But not first.
If we are his disciples, we must seek his kingdom – his way – first.
And it’s not only a question we should ask ourselves. It’s a question we should ask one another.
If someone sincerely asks you the question, “What might the teaching and example of Jesus have to say to this situation?” and your response is annoyance, it might be time to think more seriously about what it means for you to be a disciple of Jesus.
My friends, seek first the kingdom.
You will be glad you did.