Some of you may have a mentor in your life. Some a life coach. Some a therapist/counselor/pastor.
Everyone has a role model.
One of the stranger jargon words for those of us who claim the Christian faith is “Lord.” Who in today’s world has a Lord in their lives? Except for British, Irish, Scottish parliamentarians, and such. Yet, we talk about having a relationship with Jesus as Lord.
Jesus as Lord? Really?
I’m thinking it might work better to talk about have a relationship with Jesus as role model.
Wondering if maybe Jesus might at least be qualified to show us how to be a Christian. And if it works out to follow him as a role model in this way, maybe we can then move on to someday calling him Lord. Which, by the way, means “absolute authority” as in “Master God.” That’s what the word Lord meant in the biblical Hebrew, Adonai, and in the Greek Septuagint, Kyrios.
Somehow, I figure Jesus would even accept starting out as our role model. Kind of like in Matthew 10 where he sends out his original twelve disciples to just do the things he did. Then, as in Matthew 28:19-20, he sends his remaining 11 disciples to teach others to do the same things. Perpetual role modeling. Each one teach one. That’s when Lordship finally kicks in.
Well, it worked for those original disciples of Jesus. They kept it going for another 10-15 years or so until a dude named Saul catches on after seeing this guy named Stephen who faced his own death, tortured by stoning til he would draw his last breath, forgiving those who were torturing him even as Jesus himself had done earlier. Then Saul takes on a new name, Paul, accepts a new role model named Ananias. Goes through about 20 or so more years with Jesus as his primary role model until it comes time for his own death. Then he writes a letter about this time to the Philippian churches. Time for him to remind everyone else to follow Jesus as their role model. Only here’s how he did that reminding (re-mind-ing):
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Maybe this was just Paul trying to psych himself up enough to face his own death. Probably was that, at least in part. He goes on to write, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) But I think it was more like saying “make Jesus your role model throughout life. It will make you stronger when it comes to loving your neighbor — even your enemies, helping the people who are hurting, even the ones who are hurting you, and overcoming every possible adversity. Even death.”
One thing about role modeling is that it happens more in deeds than in words, more in showing how and not just saying what. Jesus showed others how to live, and die. These others then did the same for their own “others.” And it’s all still going on today when what we might call “red letter Christians” continue to do whatever Jesus says to do, and stop themselves from doing what he says not to do. It starts with being humble. Take a one-down position in relation to others. Be a servant, not a master. Do the dirty work nobody else wants to touch. Love unconditionally. Do what Jesus would do. Follow him as our chief role model in life.
Wish I could say I was better at doing all that myself. Sadly, I’m not. Especially when it comes to loving my enemies like Jesus loved his. That’s a tough one. So maybe I’ll also follow Paul in writing about it for my next blog. Stay tuned: Next time is: The Role of Enemy Love. Time to figure out how Jesus did just that in relation to his own many enemies. Didn’t just tell us what but showed us how. Which is what real role modeling is all about.