Setting an Example

Having spent the greater part of the past two years in the Old Testament, for my own state of mind and personal growth, I decided to take a walk with Jesus again through the Gospel accounts. I started in Mark. One, because many scholars think it was chronologically the first account written out of the four included in the Canon. Also, Mark tends to be my favorite. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the Gospel accounts, but Mark shows Jesus in an incredibly candid light. His emotion shows through more than the other three accounts, and I like that. I love watching the humanity of Jesus come through as he works to help his friends understand his mission and purpose.

In Mark 2:13-20, Jesus is shown eating with his disciples, oh, and a bunch of unclean sinners, too. Funny how that’s where we see Jesus most often. Jesus is shown eating almost as much as he is shown doing anything else. The myriad references to food are astounding. Anyway, the Pharisees call him on it, and he simply states that the sick need a doctor, not the healthy, and continues on his way.

The sucker punch in this passage came with the question my inductive study book (Portraits of Jesus, by Michael R. Cosby) asked. It asked what the difference between the Pharisees approach to ministry and Jesus’ was?

Immediately, I was struck with an answer. (If you’ve already come to this conclusion, forgive me for rehashing this.) The Pharisees isolated themselves from the culture of the day (a Greek-infused culture ruled over by Roman law) and encouraged people to follow their example of living by a strict code of morals and hygiene. And I immediately recoiled at the thought that this is nearly identical to what we do as Christians. We isolate ourselves from the culture, create our own, and “set an example” so that people might join us.

It sounds nice, but then I saw Jesus’ model. Jesus entered the culture, eating with those. Eating in the ancient world is very much like it is today. I learn so much and have such great conversation over meals. Food brings people together. Jesus certainly set an example, but he didn’t pull away from the culture like it was some monster, he faced it and used it to his purpose.

Jesus created relationships. He sat down with and walked alongside people. He was present with them and made them feel important, loved, appreciated. Jesus’ ministry was one concerned with people. So when we ask ourselves and our kids to set an example, why not encourage that example to be creating relationships and encouraging others?

Teaching kids to value people over things seems like a great way to turn culture around, to me, anyway. How do you view your ministry to others? What kind of example in creating relationship do you show your kids?

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