Jesus modeled an unconventional way of life, especially when compared to modern Christianity.
He was homeless. He prepared for ministry by 40 days alone in the desert. He slept on the desert floor. His robe would have been dirty, his hair greasy, and there would have been an unpleasant smell from body odor. No mouthwash or toothpaste means bad breath. This isn’t the anesthetized Jesus we see in pictures with a white robe and looking like a happy hippy. He had no material possessions to get obsessed or upset about. He lived free from hindrances or anything that might slow Him down. Modern man has been attempting to clean Jesus up for centuries to make him more appealing and less convicting to the masses, but…
Jesus thinned out the crowds. In John 6, not far into His ministry, He gave the message on “eating His flesh and drinking His blood, with the result that “after this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” That’s not how most of us would build a church. We like to make it appealing to everyone, set the bar low. He set the bar high from the beginning.
In recent years there has been a flow of big-name Christians with large followings who have fallen, including Bill Hybels, Ravi Zacharias, Mark Driscoll, Jerry Falwell Jr, Carl Lentz, James MacDonald, and Brian Houston, among others. A recent report claimed that Hillsong was paying US celebrity pastors six figure honorariums in exchange for the same treatment, among other improprieties. As I’ve watched the last five years unfold I’ve wondered if Jesus has been thinning out His church and calling His people away from their fascination with that which sparkles on the outside but can distract us from Him.
Jesus warned about hell often.
He mentioned hell more than 60 times in the gospels. Many churches have scrubbed the warnings of hell from their pulpits. In a time when many unsaved Christians need those warnings, this is tragic. Once we die there are no second chances.
Jesus chased the lost, but he hit the lukewarm with truth and allowed them to walk away.
See Matthew 8:18-22 for several examples. The Church of Nice creates soft, comfort-driven Christians, which is spiritually dangerous; those are the people He ejects from His mouth (Rev. 3:16).
Jesus was a spiritual juggernaut.
Ongoing, intense spiritual warfare was His way of life, from birth, when Herod attempted to kill Him, to His death. He encountered opposition everywhere He went, including in the temples. And He decisively won every battle.
He experienced more shame than most of us ever will.
None of the pictures of the crucifixion I’ve seen match the truth. There was no loin cloth. Picture being stripped naked and set on a pedestal in front a crowd who hates you, let alone all the physical torment He went through. His internal strength to endure such shame without fighting back must have been more than we will ever understand.
He never promised a happy ending this side of eternity.
From a human perspective, Jesus’ life ended in horrible tragedy. 11 out of the 12 apostles were killed. So was Paul. There are no guarantees of a life lived without suffering and pain. Safety is an illusion; Jesus trained and equipped men and women for a life of spiritual warfare and trials. He didn’t coddle them with cheap cliches or sugary platitudes. Is your church equipping you to be a fighter and overcomer?
Jesus never complained.
When Jesus was enduring Pilate’s kangaroo court, He didn’t cry out “Not fair!”
He never complained about being homeless, attacked by the religious rulers, facing ongoing spiritual warfare, or being constantly surrounded by people (as an introvert, that last one would drive me nuts). How often do we whine about the non-essentials of life, as if some great catastrophe had overtaken us? Those of us who are devoted Christ-followers who have been given every spiritual blessing and the promise of eternal life have nothing to complain about. It’s like a billionaire complaining that his Starbucks had too much milk when he could buy his own café.
The cadence of His life was amazing.
Jesus never seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere. We don’t read “Hurry up, I have to meet the woman at the well in 45 minutes and we’re running late!” There is no panic, no frenzy, no worry, even if others are freaking out.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus belonged to a tribe.
Jesus had an inner circle of 3: Peter, James, and John. Plus, the rest of the 12, and the women who accompanied Him, such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna. At the end of His life, John, Mary Magdeline, Joanna, and Susanna were among the few who went with Him all the way to the cross. This is nothing like the life of most modern Christians, who are isolated and don’t have one close believer who they can share anything with.
He spent many hours alone in the desert, praying.
So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
Here many modern Christians check out. The idea of two hours alone with God is intimidating, let alone going away alone with Him for several days. In part, this is the fall-out of our prayerless churches. No prayer, no power. Prayer is the key to walking in the rhythm of His life, without burdens, stable and uncomplaining, with the spiritual firepower to overcome no matter what we get hit with.
Jesus kept moving forward.
We see Him constantly advancing, taking more ground, overthrowing the enemy, breaking strongholds, healing hearts, minds, and bodies. His focus was locked on making every minute count of His brief time down here.
Although no man or woman will measure up to the example Jesus gave us, we can align our life to His ways in many of these areas. We all have changes we can make and areas we can grow in. Jesus showed us the Rogue way that we might live an effective life that counts for the eternal. As you read through His way of life, what stood out that you can change today?