Living Like Jesus

There is a fascinating story in the gospels where Jesus defends a lady being confronted by religion
Then at dawn Jesus appeared in the temple courts again, and soon all the people gathered around to listen to his words, so he sat down and taught them. Then in the middle of his teaching, the religious scholars and the Pharisees broke through the crowd and brought a woman who had been caught in the act of committing adultery and made her stand in the middle of everyone.
Then they said to Jesus, “Teacher, we caught this woman in the very act of adultery. Doesn’t Moses’ law command us to stone to death a woman like this? Tell us, what do you say we should do with her?” They were only testing Jesus because they hoped to trap him with his own words and accuse him of breaking the laws of Moses.

But Jesus didn’t answer them. Instead he simply bent down and wrote in the dust with his finger. Angry, they kept insisting that he answer their question, so Jesus stood up and looked at them and said, “Let’s have the man who has never had a sinful desire throw the first stone at her.” And then he bent over again and wrote some more words in the dust.
Upon hearing that, her accusers slowly left the crowd one at a time, beginning with the oldest to the youngest, with a convicted conscience. Until finally, Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there in front of him. So he stood back up and said to her, “Dear woman, where are your accusers? Is there no one here to condemn you?”
Looking around, she replied, “I see no one, Lord.”
Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either. Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”  (John 8:2-11 The Passion Translation)
This is an amazing story – a true story
It shows us how Jesus treated people and encourages us to be “Living Like Jesus”
As I thought about the story during this past week and the example that Jesus set for us
The key players:
Jesus
The woman who is a sinner
The religious leaders – scholars and pharisees – who crashed his teaching time
The people who followed Jesus to hear His teachings and see miracles
I noticed that Jesus treated this woman – this sinner – with dignity and respect
He did not judge her – even though the Law condemned her Jesus did not
He did not distance Himself from her
He is not criticize her
He did not lecture her
He did not quote the Bible to her
He did not correct her
He did not reject her
And, I noticed that the religious people did basically the opposite
They judged her according to the Law
The letter of the Law and not the spirit (intent) of the Law
They were judgmental
They were seriously critical
They condemned her
They rejected her because of her lifestyle
They were watching her waiting for her to sin
“Caught in the act of adultery…”
It is obvious to me that Jesus had three options in dealing with this lady caught in adultery
He could condone her lifestyle … “License”
He could condemn her lifestyle … “Legalism”
He could communicate with her about her lifestyle … “Liberty”
The religious leaders and the people gathered to hear Him teach instantly condemned her as they obeyed the letter of the Law – Legalism
Others might have been moved by compassion and being ‘tolerant’ they would simply accept her regardless of her lifestyle – License
Jesus chose to talk with her and heard her heart bringing her into freedom and deliverance – Liberty
1 Samuel 16:7b “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Jesus listened
Jesus cared
Jesus treated her with compassion
Jesus opened His heart to her
Jesus treated her with dignity
Jesus gave her respect
Dignity = A sense of worthiness (worth) and appreciation for the person
Respect = Granting a person rights and privileges because of who they are
  = Acceptance of a person as they are right now
              = Acknowledging a person’s worth
              = Treating people with courtesy
Jesus let her know that in God’s eyes she was precious and important
Jesus let her know that God understood her situation and did not condemn her
Jesus let her know that she was accepted for who she was as she was created in God’s image
Jesus let her know that God saw her heart and not just her lifestyle
Jesus let her know that she was not judged nor condemned by God – just by religion
John 3:17-18a “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…”
“Jesus said, “Then I certainly don’t condemn you either.”
 Jesus let her know that God loved her and so did He
Jesus let her know that God believed in her and believed that, with His help, she could change her life and “sin no more”
“…Go, and from now on, be free from a life of sin.”
As I thought about this story…
We are quick to judge – too quick
We tend to label people … put them in a box so that we can better “understand them” or even ‘write them off’
We tend to ‘group’ people …
Control them, react to them, interact with them, relate to them
Drunk, Homosexual, Teenager, Drug addict, Divorced, sleeping around
As if their situation defines them and determines or dictates how we relate to them
Our body language often speaks louder than our words
Often saying that we are critical of how they look and who they are
Sometimes telling them that we reject them even though we don’t see or know their heart
We judge by outward appearances – where, as we saw, God sees the heart and does not judge by outward appearances
We are uncomfortable with people who are different than we are – and those whom we don’t understand
Judy’s son-in-law … drug addict
Cody … wearing a kilt to church week after week
Bob … long-term in a wheelchair
Benjamin … lots of tattoos
Men and women who are gay
Those who are bi-sexual
Transgender people
Muslims
It appears to me that often we have created our own “Law” that we expect people to adhere to
A standard that we have set and expect people to live by
A lifestyle that we find comfortable and believe others should adopt
A set of values we believe is biblical and others should adopt in their lives
And that these create a “We – They” situation where we are in apposing camps
It appears to me that we often have expectations of others – spoken and unspoken – that we expect people to meet – even if they have never agreed to them
And, when they don’t live up to our expectations and demands… we judge and reject
Paul writes:
Romans 8:1-4 “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One. For the “law” of the Spirit of life flowing through the anointing of Jesus has liberated us from the “law” of sin and death. For God achieved what the law was unable to accomplish, because the law was limited by the weakness of human nature.
Yet God sent us his Son in human form to identify with human weakness. Clothed with humanity, God’s Son gave his body to be the sin-offering so that God could once and for all condemn the guilt and power of sin. So now every righteous requirement of the law can be fulfilled through the Anointed One living his life in us. And we are free to live, not according to our flesh, but by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit!” (The Passion Translation)
Jesus identified with people … and did three things:
1> He loved each and every person unconditionally and equally
Sinner and saint alike
Jew. Samaritan, Roman, Greek, or Gentile
No strings attached
No demands made … if you do this then I will love you
No prerequisites
2> He accepted people just as they are – not needing them to change first before they became acceptable
He did not judge – He received and embraced people
He knew where a person was at – but knew where God could take them
He understood who the person was – but saw the potential of who they could become
No demands before acceptance – simply embrace and engage them
3> He forgave people totally and always
Even on the cross, as He was dying, He forgave those who hours before had nailed Him to the cross … those who crucified Him
And, if we are to be “Living Like Jesus” then we too need to “identify with human weakness” and do as Jesus did… and does
Love unconditionally
Accept people just as they are
Forgive those who hurt us, speak against us, persecute us, reject us and our beliefs
And, the way we relate to people and thus treat people must visibly show others that we do:
Love them unconditionally
Accept people just as they are
Forgive those who hurt us, speak against us, persecute us, reject us and our beliefs
This lifestyle must be practical
This lifestyle must be visible
This lifestyle must be daily
This is called living by grace
Jesus loves you unconditionally
Jesus accepts you just as you are
Jesus forgives you totally, always
AND, this is all by grace
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.” (The Passion Translation)
And, so we are to extend the same grace to others
They should not have to earn our:
Unconditional love – we love because we are loved
Acceptance – we accept because we are accepted and acceptable
Forgiveness – we forgive as we have been forgiven … totally
So, we extend to others what Jesus extended to us
His heart and His hand … in love, in acceptance, in forgiveness…. By grace
This is “Living Like Jesus” … and it is a call today on the life of each and every believer
And, it is certainly not difficult although it takes some getting use to
It is really not you doing it – flesh, feelings, thoughts, attitude
It is Christ living in you – living through you touching others
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So you can do this…
Don’t make it difficult
God has poured His life into you and is living His life through you
God has given you His grace and His grace enables you
God has given you His Holy Spirit and He empowers you
It is a flow
Release the life and let it move from you touching others
It is the “rivers of living waters” within you flowing out to refresh others
(John 7:38)
It is the “life” that you have experienced released to touch others (John 1:4)