If you’re born-again, Jesus is not only your Lord, he’s your Master.
In other words, he’s your schoolmaster, and the Holy Bible is your schoolbook.
Jesus came to Earth for two main reasons: to pay the sin price (redemption) and to teach his followers how to live in the Kingdom.
Both of these reasons – redemption and teaching about the Kingdom – are equally important.
Most people are at least vaguely aware of Jesus’ role as redeemer, but his teaching role is much less well known.
We, as born-again believers, know about Jesus being our teacher because we refer to his lessons and examples to guide us in our day-to-day lives.
We know that the Kingdom has come because we live in it. Jesus taught us how.
There’s a troubling assumption among some Christians that “Jesus is coming back soon” to set up his kingdom. They see the ever-worsening spiritual state of the world and consider this a precursor to Jesus’ second coming. Certainly, Jesus himself told us that he would be returning at the end of time, but he never said anything about setting up a worldly kingdom. In fact, he pointedly stated that his Kingdom is not of this world. The assumption that Jesus will set up a worldly kingdom is based solely on the misinterpretation of a single passage in the book of Revelation. Everything else in the Bible points to Jesus setting up a spiritual Kingdom that exists parallel to worldly kingdoms. That crucial task he’s already accomplished; if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.
The lessons Jesus taught his followers were intended to be applied immediately, not in some hazy future, millennia away. This is in part why Jesus occasionally got so impatient with his disciples. They weren’t applying the lessons he’d taught them, but were instead defaulting to the ways of the world. Jesus intended his lessons on the Kingdom to be applied immediately after they were taught, because the Kingdom had already come and would be expanding after his resurrection. Believers needed to know how to live in the Kingdom, as living in the Kingdom requires a different set of rules than living in the world.
An equally troubling assumption is that “Jesus did it all”, so we don’t have to do anything but “believe” and “have faith” and our eternal reward is handed to us on a silver platter. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Jesus taught us our lessons so that we’d apply them; applying them means doing something beyond simply believing or having faith. Applying our lessons means living them day by day, in everything we do.
There’s no point in giving lessons unless tests are also given to see how well the lessons have been learned. God specializes in allowing “surprise” tests to be given to his children as the need arises. As I mentioned in an earlier article, we’re supernaturally shielded from knowing that they are tests; the shielding is done so that our response is organic. If we knew in advance that we’re being tested, we’d be able to prepare a carefully appropriate response, but God doesn’t want that. He wants to see our raw response, not our cooked or half-baked one. He wants to see how we really are, not how we say or think we are.
Have you been tested lately? Of course you have; we’re tested nearly every day. Think of a recent test you had and the circumstances that led up to it. How did you do? Be honest, now! I blush recalling how badly I’ve done on some of my tests. But thank God I’ve at least learned this: that no matter how dismally I do, I get back on my feet, brush myself off, and keep going.
That’s all God expects of us – not that we pass our tests with flying colors, like Jesus did, but that we do our best and don’t give up. Each of us has a different best, but we all have the capacity not to give up, we all have the capacity to keep going regardless of how dark our present circumstances. All it requires of us is a simple decision of the will, a silent “yes” to God, an inner nod that’s seen and understood only in the spiritual realm. Then God can strengthen us and we can keep going.
We need to remember that Jesus came to teach us as much as he came to redeem us. Teaching necessarily requires testing, and testing occasionally ends in less than satisfactory results. But our failures needn’t be the end of us; sometimes our failures are themselves meant to be our lessons.
So learn your lessons as Jesus taught them, do your best to apply them every day, and no matter how well or how badly you do on your tests, keep going.
Just get back up on your feet, brush yourself off, and keep going.
“Those who endure to the end will be saved.”