Written by Evi Idoghor
When most people hear about Christianity, their defense mechanism kicks in. This is because some people perceive Christians to be judgmental, spiteful, and hateful as a result of some Christians displaying these personality flaws. I hope that by reading this post, you will understand that we are all flawed beings (including you), and you begin to see Christianity through the eyes of Jesus Christ, so you don't lose faith in God when Christians fail or hurt you in unimaginable ways.
A Little Back Story
According to Luke 1:26, God sent out an angel, Gabriel, to deliver a message in Nazareth, a Galilean city. The angel was sent to a virgin named Mary. She was planning to marry a man named Joseph. In verse 28, the angel appeared to her and said, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women." He went on to tell her that she would become pregnant and give birth to a son whom she would name Jesus. He would become the world's savior, reconciling humanity to God, their creator. I can only imagine how thrilled and terrified she was at the same time. Thrilled because an angel of God appeared to her with good news, and perhaps fearful because this conception would occur without her having sexual relations with any man (not even her then fiancé, Joseph).
So, how was she going to tell everyone she was pregnant outside of marriage? Even worse, how was she going to explain her pregnancy to her fiancé? I'm curious how this would have turned out in 2021. Anyway, not to digress, Jesus was born later. The Bible says in Luke 2:40 that He grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him. Throughout the New Testament, where Jesus' story is told, He exhibits some fantastic characteristics that I'd like to share with you today.
1. Wisdom: Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry, He demonstrated unfathomable wisdom. The story of a woman caught in the act of adultery told in John 8:1-11, shows us this character trait in effect. The law at the time allowed for those caught in the act of adultery to be stoned to death. When this woman was discovered, a group of people brought her to Jesus, telling Him what she had done and stating what the law required (as if He didn't know).
Jesus initially ignored them, but they continued to pester Him for His opinion. So He replied, "Let Him who is without sin among you cast the first stone at her." According to the Bible, they all dropped their stones one by one, from the oldest to the youngest, and by the time Jesus looked up, only the woman is standing next to Him. Then He told her to go on with her life and to stop sinning.
In this story, Jesus demonstrates enormous wisdom in how He responds to the woman's accusers. He accomplishes this by not contradicting what is written in the law, but by demonstrating to the public that only a righteous judge could pass such a judgment on a person. As a result, they eliminated themselves shamefully.
We have a tendency to believe that other people's sins are worse than ours—they deserve the death penalty, they should be punished for the heinous crimes they've committed (you can tell I watch a lot of crime shows). But before we condemn others, we should examine our own lives to see if we are truly living right, and even if we are, we should be quick to show mercy rather than judgment, because it is not our place to judge.
2. Gentleness: In the garden of Gethsemane, just before He was led to be crucified, Jesus poured out His heart to God. I can tell from what the Bible says that He was in a lot of pain at the time. We sometimes forget that Jesus, like us, had days when He was tired, hungry, or slept. He felt a myriad of emotions, just like we do. Thus, dying the death on a cross, was no easy feat for Him.
He asked His friends (the disciples) to pray for Him, while He went a little further away to pray as well. A group of people came to arrest Him after the prayer session, with Judas (one of his disciples) leading the pack of Pharisees. When Jesus asked who they were looking for, they said it was Him. Before He could leave with them, one of His friends (Simon Peter) drew his sword and cut off one of the opposing men's ears.
In John 18:11, Jesus told Peter to lay down his sword. If that doesn't convey gentleness, I'm not sure what does. Peter acted emotionally, but Jesus did not resist the people who harassed Him, even until His death. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 5:39, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person. Turn the other cheek to whoever slaps you on the right."
Be slow to become enraged or retaliatory. God has said that vengeance is mine, and I will repay (Romans 12:19). There is something about gentleness that helps you grow and mature. You are not easily fazed by things. Rather than lash out, as Jesus had every right to do in this story, He chose to be peaceful. Be like Jesus!
3. Compassion: Everywhere Jesus went, He was filled with compassion. If He came across people who were hungry for food or the word of God, or who were sick, He was always moved with compassion to act. He never turned a blind eye to anyone else's plight. This leads me to the story of a man who had been ill for 38 years. So, in those days, God sent an angel to the earth at a specific time to stir up the pool, which was known as Bethesda in Hebrew. There were a lot of sick people by the pool with various ailments, and whenever the angel stirred the water, whoever got in first got healed of whatever ailment they had.
So this man in particular had a disability that made it difficult for him to walk. You can imagine what he was going through all those years; he was right in the middle of what could have been his miracle, but with no one to carry him into the pool because everyone seemed to look out for themselves or their loved ones, this man lay there for 38 years; year after year hoping that something would happen one day. Fortunately, his day came. Jesus happened to be in town for a feast when He came across the man lying by the pool. So He inquired, "Do you want to be made well?"
"There is no one to put me in the pool when the water is stirred," the man replied, "and while I'm on my way, someone steps down ahead of me."
"Rise, take up your bed, and walk," Jesus said to him. And he was instantly made well. (See also John 5:5–10)
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 did not squander His time on frivolous activities. He was and still is preoccupied with His Father's affairs. At age 12, He stayed behind with the scholars after the Passover feast to learn from them. They were astounded by His comprehension and responses. 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.
Give yourself completely to whatever God has called you to do. Allow it to consume your thought process; work on it as if your life depends on it. That's when you're truly alive.
5. Loving: Jesus is love because God is love. Whatever He did, I believe the driving force behind it was love. Jesus is found saying in John 3:16, “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." Jesus was a living example of God's love for us. It was all about love, from when He called His disciples to when He fed the 5000 and 4000, to the healing of the sick and raising of the dead. Which brings me to my final story, Lazarus' story. Jesus befriended this family, which included three siblings, two ladies (Mary and Martha), and a man (Lazarus). In John 11, a message was sent to Jesus, saying, "the one you love is sick," pleading with Him to come quickly and heal him.
For some reason, Jesus postponed His trip to see them for another two days. As such, Lazarus died before He could get there. By the time Jesus arrived, everyone was crying and mourning as a result of his death. "Jesus wept," the Bible says in John 11:35. However, He proceeded to raise Lazarus from the dead by calling his name, to which Lazarus responded by exiting the grave! This story demonstrates Jesus' love not only for this family, but also for us. Just as He gave Lazarus a second chance at life, He also has given us a second chance by sacrificing His life on the cross so that we can all be reconciled to God. That is if we truly believe that He came, died, and rose from the dead, and that He is Lord.
We should all be willing to love one another. If we indeed truly love each other, that is how people will know that we are His disciples. Also, I believe that the world will be a much safer and better place to live in, when love thrives.
For those who believe Christianity is repulsive because some people have been cruel or hateful to them, I hope you can see a glimpse of how Christ lived His life on earth from this post and trust Him completely. These characteristics Jesus exhibited can also be applied to our lives as Christians. Because we have His Spirit within us, we already have these qualities to help us live better lives.
Related Post: Why Is Jesus Celebrated During Christmas
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