Living the Life of Jesus
Last year when we visited Ballarat, one of the highlights was watching a number of pantomimes put on at Sovereign Hill and Kryall Castle. The boys were right there in the action, yelling out from their seats, “Watch out behind you!”, or arguing with the actors, “Yes it is.” “No it’s not.” Or even a “Boo!” to the villain and an “Awww!” to the tragic victim.
There is something about live drama that draws us into the action of the performance on stage. The actors lay hold of our hearts. We laugh, we cry, we hope our way through the play. The gospel is live drama performed on the stage of history. Except it is not an act. It is not pretend. It is real it happened. God stepped into history. He became one of us. He died on the cross. He rose from the dead. All before the watching world. This is the gospel of Jesus. And it draws us into the drama.
I remember hearing of man who read one of the four gospels for the first time. As he reads, he is captivated by Jesus – a man who did wonderful miracles, who spoke the truth of God, who restored the outsider back to God and into community with others. His heart leaps. He has found a Saviour. The one who returns us to God. But then he reaches the crucifixion and he is heart-broken. He sees the one who gave him hope, now stretched out on a cross and killed. And he weeps and weeps and weeps because his Saviour has been taken from him. Until he reads the resurrection – and is left speechless, amazed, exultant – Jesus lives!
The gospel of Jesus Christ draws us into the action, to not only be those who look on, to not only be those who benefit from what he has done, but to participate in the drama, to take the stage of our own lives with the gospel as our script, to live out the life of Jesus again in our own lives. Last year, when we looked at the letter to the Philippians together, this is what struck me, and God keeps bringing it to mind. We are to live out the life of Jesus again in our lives. Paul writes it this way:
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,
Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death –
even death on a cross.
We are not only to be those who are loved by Jesus, but to love like Jesus. We are not only to be those who are forgiven by Jesus, but are to actively seek reconciliation and give forgiveness to the people God brings into our lives. We are not only to be those who are served by Jesus, but who take on the very nature of a servant like Jesus.
Even in writing these words, I become animated, like the crowd in a pantomime, yelling out at the actors – “Praise God!” But it’s one thing to sit in the audience and shout out comments, it is another to take to the stage and follow the script. There is a tendency in our hearts to go off script, to write our own lives rather than to live out the life of Jesus. It is a struggle to live as a servant.
We can continually challenge God’s script for our lives as given in the life of Jesus in the various situations in life: in the heated exchange with our spouse where we refuse to back down because we are convinced we are right, when we avoid certain people because we do not like them or struggle to relate to them, in refusing to help around the house because it is my “me time”, in not assisting others in need because I am not prepared to bear the cost it takes to help them.
We will find our deepest joy and greatest wonder in living out the life of Christ in these situations and every moment of our life. It is an invitation to participate with Father, Son and Spirit in the drama of redemption, and lay our lives down in service to one another. We will grow in our maturity and relationship with God. We live looking ahead to the final curtain, our promised resurrection, so that when we have lived, laying down our lives for others, God will raise us up from the grave to live with Christ in unending joy and wonder.
Are we taking the life of Christ as the script by which we live out our lives?