Written by Evi Idoghor
When most people hear about Christianity, they tend to put up a defense mechanism. This is because some people generally view Christians as judgmental, spiteful, and hateful as a result of some Christians exhibiting these character flaws. However, it is not supposed to be so.
Through this post, I want people to begin to view Christianity through the lens of Jesus Christ. Just so when those who profess to be Christians fall short or hurt you in an unimaginable way, you don't lose your faith in God.
A Little Back Story
In Luke 1:26 (from the Bible) God sent an angel, Gabriel, to deliver a message in Nazareth a city in Galilee. The angel was sent to pass this message on to a virgin whose name was Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. The angel appeared to her in vs. 28 saying "Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women."
He went on to tell her she was going to get pregnant and give birth to a son, who she was to name Jesus. As such, He would become the savior of the world and reconcile the sons of men back to God, their creator.
I can only imagine how excited and fearful she felt at the same time. Excited because an angel of God appeared to her with some good news and fearful because, this conception was going to happen without her being intimate with any man or even her then fiance, Joseph.
How was she going to tell everyone that she was pregnant out of wedlock? Better still, how was she going to explain to her fiance that she was pregnant? I wonder how this would have played out in 2021. Anyway, not to go off course, Jesus was born afterward.
According to Luke 2:40, the Bible says He grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him. Throughout the New Testament where the story of Jesus is documented, He showcases some fantastic characteristics that I will like to share with you today.
1) Wisdom: Jesus was wise beyond His years; theologians have speculated that He lived on earth for about 33 years. And during those years, He exhibited unimaginable wisdom. John 8:1-11 narrates the story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Now in those days, the law allowed for such people to be stoned to death.
So when this woman was found out, a group of people brought her to Jesus telling Him what she did and stating what the law required (like He didn't know).
Jesus ignores them at first, and they keep on pestering Him for Him to give them a go-ahead. During the time of Jesus, people would often ask His opinions on subject matters, not because they really cared for it, but just so they could trap Him if He slipped up according to their Jewish laws.
If He were a people pleaser, He would have thought— Let me just allow these people do what they want to do, after all it is justifiable by their law. Rather, He took a different approach, as He knew the purpose for which He came. So He answered them: “He who is without sin among you, let Him throw the first stone at her."
One by one as the Bible recounts, from the oldest to the youngest; they all drop their stones and by the time Jesus looks up, no one else but the woman is standing next to Him.
Jesus displays such an enormous act of wisdom in this story with the way He answers the woman’s accusers. He does so by not negating what was written in the law, but by showing people that every sin is deserving of death. Which causes them to self-eliminate shamefully, and in turn, preserves her life.
Lesson: Sometimes we are inclined to think other people’s sins are worse than ours (I inclusive)—they deserve the death penalty, they should be punished for the gruesome crimes they‘ve committed (you can tell I watch a lot of crime shows). But before we go ahead condemning people, we should evaluate our own lives and see if we are genuinely living right, and even if we are, we should be quick to show mercy over judgment, as it is not our place to judge.
2) Gentleness: Right before Jesus was led to be crucified, He poured out His heart to God in the garden of Gethsemane. I can tell from what the Bible shares that He was going through so much pain at that moment. Sometimes we tend to overlook the fact that Jesus shared in our humanity— there were days He was tired, there were days He was hungry and there were days He slept, just like us. As such, the mission Jesus was about to accomplish for all of us, was a daunting one.
He asked His friends (the disciples) to pray for Him, while He went a little distance away from them to also pray. After the prayer session was over, with Judas (one of his disciples) leading the pack of the Pharisees, they came to arrest Him. He (Jesus) asked who they were you seeking, and they said it was Him. Before He could leave with them, one of His friends (Simon Peter) drew out his sword and cut off the ears of one of the men on the opposing side.
In John 18:11 Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword, because He was going ahead with the plan of redemption God had for humanity (paraphrased). If that doesn’t speak of gentleness, I don't know what else does.
Peter was acting out of emotion, but Jesus even up until His death did not resist the people that were harrassing Him. It all makes sense now, after all in Matthew 5:39 Jesus says “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. Whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
Lesson: Be slow to anger or retaliation. God has said vengeance is mine; I will repay (Romans 12:19) There is something about gentleness that grows and matures you. Things don't easily faze you. Rather than lash out, which Jesus had every right to do in this story; He chose to be peaceful because He had the bigger picture in mind. Be like Jesus!
3) Compassion: Jesus always had compassion! Everywhere He went, whether the people were hungry for food or the word of God, or if they were sick, He was always moved with compassion to do something. Jesus was a "see something, do something" kind of guy. He never turned a blind eye to anyone's sufferings.
This brings me to the story of a man who was sick for 38 years. So here is what happened, in those days God usually sent an angel to the earth at a specific time to stir up the pool which was called Bethesda in Hebrew.
By the pool lay a lot of sick people with different kinds of ailment, and whenever the angel stirred the water, whoever got in first, got healed of whatever sickness they had. You can imagine what a disabled person faces, who is right smack in the middle of what could have become his miracle, but with no one to carry him into the pool because everyone apparently is trying to look out for themselves or their loved one, this man lay there for 38 years; year after year hoping that something will happen one day.
And his day came. Jesus happened to be in that city for a feast when he came across the man lying there. He asked him, do you want to be made well? The man replied, there is no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred, while I'm on my way, someone steps down before me. Jesus then says to him, “rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately he was made well. (See John5:5-10)
Lesson: We should be quick to render help to those in need. We might not be able to feed the 5000 like Jesus did or heal the sick, but no matter how small, our help can go a long way and transform somebody’s life.
4) Driven: Jesus knew His time on earth was limited. He didn’t waste His time with things that were unnecessary. He was and still is about His Father’s business. At the age of 12 after the feast of the Passover, Jesus stayed behind with the scholars and gleaned from them. They were astonished by His understanding and answers.
Jesus remained with them without his parent’s knowledge so as to acquire more experience at the temple. He was willing to go to any length to arm Himself with whatever knowledge was needed for His purpose. John 2:13 records a story of how Jesus drove away the people who were doing business in the temple.
The disciples then recalled that it was written about Him, centuries ago, saying “Zeal for Your house, has eaten Me up." He had one thing only on His mind, and that was the kingdom of God.
Lesson: Whatever God has called you to do, give yourself entirely to it. Let it consume your thought process; work at it like your very existence depends on it. That is when you are truly living.
5) Loving: Jesus is love because God is love. Whatever He did, I believe the driving force behind it was love. The bible says in John 3:16 that "for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
His love for us drove God's plan to save humanity. Jesus was an example of that love God has for us. From when He called His disciples, to when He fed the 5000 & 4000 respectively, to the healing of the sick and raising of the dead, it was all about love.
Which brings me to my final story, the story of Lazarus. Jesus was friends with this family that consisted of three siblings, two ladies (Mary and Martha) and a man (Lazarus). A message was sent out to Jesus in John 11, saying that "the one who you love is sick,” imploring Him to come quickly to heal him.
Jesus for some reason delays His trip for two days before going to see them. Within that two day window, and a possible two more days for His journey, Lazarus dies. By the time Jesus gets there it is too late because Lazarus has already been buried for four days and his body in the process of decaying, according to one of his sisters.
As a result of his death, all the people were crying and mourning. In John 11:35 the Bible says “Jesus wept.” He then proceeds to raise Lazarus from the dead, by calling his name, and Lazarus responding by coming out of the grave! (Crazy stuff right?).
Jesus’s love not just for this family, but for humanity can be seen in this story as he gives Lazarus a second chance at life. He also demonstrates this, by laying His life down at the cross so we can all be reconciled to God if we truly believe that He came, died, was raised from the dead, and He is Lord. That way we can have this second chance at life so to speak.
Lesson: We should all be willing to love one another. If we indeed truly love each other, I believe that the world will be a much safer and better place to live in. That is why God says after loving Him first, we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
For those who believe Christianity is off-putting because some people have been spiteful or have displayed hatred towards you, I hope you can see a snippet of how Christ lived His life on earth from this post And put your trust in Him.
To Christians, we can also apply to our lives, these characteristics Jesus displayed. We have His Spirit in us, so we already have these qualities in grafted in us to help us lead better lives.
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