Equipping by living.

(This continues posts from the last two days: “Effective equipper and “Learning how Jesus taught“)

Teaching with words isn’t the only way that Jesus equipped.

Jesus lived his teaching.

In his last assignment, Jesus talked about “teaching people to obey everything I’ve commanded.” The way you teach people how to obey is, to obey.

Jesus did things that he told others they needed to do.

It started at the beginning of his public work when he went to John the Baptist to be baptized. At the time, John was using baptism as a way of illustrating sins being washed off. Jesus, John said, didn’t need that. In fact, John said, Jesus should be baptizing him.

But Jesus was making baptism serve as an action that marked membership in the kingdom of heaven. He wanted to model the behavior he was going to commission for others. And so he was baptized.

For me, the most challenging illustration of the consistency between telling and living is a brief glimpse of his teaching around forgiveness and enemies. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Forgiveness is a noble thing. People talk about the value of forgiveness in releasing us from bitterness. But we acknowledge that it is hard and that, perhaps, there are limits.

A couple years after Jesus talks about praying for persecutors, he is struggling for breath, nailed to a cross. And someone hears him say, “Father forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” Unlike people who have persecuted others in the name of Jesus, Jesus himself asked for forgiveness. Not leniency in sentencing. Forgiveness.

Sometimes, I do group activities as I am teaching. Afterward, I explain why I use the activity, how it works, and how people in the group might apply it themselves. That’s what equipping through living looks like in a classroom.

It’s easier than doing it from a cross. But both are important. Both are about integrity.good friday

One thought on “Equipping by living.

  1. Rich Dixon

    I’m reading a book called UNCLUTTERED FAITH. The author warns that “obedience” can easily sip into a sort of “works” mentality in which we become focused on doing the right things rather than our relationship with Jesus. Seems like a good point, no?

    I’m always the guy looking for THE answer, that one silver bullet that will make it work, the key that will unlock the door. This week it’s obedience, next week it’s riding bikes, last week it was attending someone’s special conference.

    This book is helping me remember that “it’s the relationship, dummy.” There’s no magic answer, any more than there’s a magic answer to marriage or friendship or any other important relationship.

    So now I know what it ISN’T. Next step…


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