—To The Glory Of Jesus Our Perfect Example—
“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed…” (John 20:29)
An example means an illustration serving to clarify or prove something. Understanding is a very tough process. To hear is easy, to know is not so easy, but to understand is tough. Some things are easier to understand than others, but in cases where understanding becomes tricky, the best solution is to make use of examples.
Sometimes even language is limited in explaining things. Assuming someone asks a very seemingly easy question which we all know the answer, let’s say, “what is the meaning of come?” Simple right? When someone tells you come, we know what to do, but how do you explain it with words? Think of that for a while. Now the dictionary explains (with words) that come means, “to move or travel toward or into a place thought as near or familiar to the speaker.” Now that is confusingly interesting. We knew easily what come means by examples and not with words. Probably as kids before we knew the word, we only knew that when mummy or daddy says come to someone, they approach mummy or daddy. So we knew by examples what words at tender age could have confused us with. So when mummy and daddy says “come” to us, we approached them too, though we knew not the meaning in words, yet we understood perfectly to respond rightly. So examples are able to explain to perfection in details what words cannot explain.
For this reason, while the understanding capacity of young ones are still very limited, we ought to, as much as possible, make use of examples to aid their learning. Now in adults too, there are things that requires an understanding capacity which is beyond us, so we must also seek examples to be able to learn so as to understand things adequately. Usually these comes in cases not of understanding what, but of understanding how. It is easy to understand WHAT, but understanding HOW is difficult in many cases. Let’s say an instruction is given to an architect, “build me a house.” He knows WHAT it means to build a house, but HOW the client wants the house built is not understandable by that statement alone. Now to fully understand HOW, there has to be a whole lot of dialogue between the architect and his client before and after commencement of work. The long dialogues shows how hard it is to understand HOW. But assuming there is a fine house somewhere of which the client wants an exact replica, this now serves as an example. So when he says instead, “build me a house exactly like that one.” The architect immediately knows exactly HOW. Why? The example.
Take also in the case of acting. The director says to the actor, “you will run up to that shovel and stop.” He knows what to run up to something is, but since acting sends out message with everything including gestures, he won’t know exactly how to go about it. But when the director says, “you’d run up to the shovel and stop. Run like Usain Bolt did on TV yesterday.” Now the actor, knowing HOW, would say sadly, “I can’t sir.” So the point is examples are very powerful.
Knowing HOW in many cases is tough especially where details are required. It is also tough where there are two or more things similar to that which is being referred to for which cause one can easily make a mistake. Should someone say, “it is good to be special,” but since special is similar to odd, people in trying to be special may end up odd. If someone says it is good to be an activist, that to a good extent is ambiguous. Does he mean we should go ahead to burn down government properties in protests? Does it mean we bully people? To understand this ambiguous statement would probably require publishing a Code of Activism to explain all that you mean so that people don’t misunderstand you. But if you have someone who has been a good activist that fits all that you mean, he becomes an example and you can always refer to him rather than go through the arduous effort of writing a Code of Activism.
Now examples does not lose its meaning by the change that language undergoes. The word “quite” in Britain means completely, while in America though having the same origin of language, it means “fairly significant extent.” English Language has evolved a great deal even during its formation. All the languages of the world evolves and keeps evolving. This makes words to lose or alter their meaning over time. But examples doesn’t.
For these reasons, using of examples is very important today as we see the common practice of either mistakenly or deliberately twisting and obfuscating the truth. Today, many good things are painted bad, and many bad things are painted good with what seems to be concrete facts. Obfuscation of truth is very possible because there are a lot of lies that are similar to the truth. So making use of examples would help a great deal.
I really love Jesus for the way he uses examples in so many things. It means he knew the importance of examples. He used the mustard seed to explain about the Kingdom of God which we wouldn’t have understood with words. He used natural occurrence to explain things of deep spiritual meaning which we can’t naturally understand. He made wonderful use of example to explain exactly what he means so that you just can’t misjudge it to mean another.
When he prayed for unity of the church in John 17:21, this informs us of how our unity is highly important to him. However today, in the name of unity, people wish to make wider the narrow road so as to unify everybody into one unholy fold. This they try to achieve by trying to persuade people to be indifferent to heresy and errors. So this way of being one is similar to what Jesus describes in his prayer to the Father for they both can be defined as being one. However, Jesus uses an example here too. He said, “as we are one.” So his oneness with the Father serves as an example to us so that we can see exactly how he wants us to be united. We know his unity with the Father was in purity, holiness, in truth, etc. It is therefore clear that these things must characterise our unity if we are to maintain the identity of the church of Christ. So anyone wanting to create an unholy mixed multitude in the name of Christian unity is in a conspicuously grievous error.
When Jesus spoke of perfection in Matthew 5:48, he said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” So he wasn’t saying we should be perfect in any sense of the word in which we’d like to take it, as we could have a perfect cook, a perfect dribbler, a perfect artist, a perfect pianist, and even a perfect liar. His reference was the Father. The Father was the example he placed before us. Therefore, in looking at the Father, we can know exactly what he is referring to.
In Mark 10:14, Jesus gave an example of a little child when speaking about how we ought to receive the kingdom of God saying, “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” Jesus used examples in innumerable other ways. For this reason, it is impossible to take him out of context. The only way one can misunderstand him is by not paying close attention to his examples.
The happier thing is that not just does he give us examples in definitions, he himself is our perfect example. When people try to bring up issues about the Christian life with screwed words and by misdefining things, we can always refer to him to rescue the situation.
As our example we must follow him in all he did. We stand for what he stood for and have the values he had. For this reason, we must pay close attention to how he walked on earth and derive from him a pattern to live our own lives.
Today, so many damnable heresies are flying everywhere pleading to each Christian mind to accept them, but we must look at Jesus first. While so many of these heresies tend to say that a Christian cannot suffer, we know that Jesus did not only suffer, but he also died suffering. But he rose victorious. The Bible also tells us plainly that he set us an example of suffering (1 Peter 2:21). So we see how the life of Jesus has served as a worthy example to the silencing of such obfuscators of truth.
So also, in everything else that pertains to Christian living and doctrine, referring to Christ helps in defining most accurately what ought to be done or not be done, what ought to be believed and not be believed. Let us be fully convinced that Jesus is our perfect example in all things and so as Christians, we must always come to conclusions on everything with Jesus our perfect example in mind. And without him, let no conclusion be made.
—Babes Of The Kingdom—
1 John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
Jesus called those who followed him little children (John 13:33). John, in his epistle, also used this phrase, little children, a lot in referring to his readers and rounded off his first epistle using this same phrase. Paul too called the Galatian Christians little children (Galatians 4:19). This was not because they were toddlers, but because when it comes to the things of Heaven, they were yet babies. The same way we all are babies while in this flesh. For this reason, not only is our understanding of heavenly things limited but even the capacity of our mind to understand heavenly things is very limited.
If Jesus were to come and and start speaking with theory and definitions about Heaven, we would get so confused. As confused as when a child is told the dictionary definition of come. So in our limited understanding capacity, we would do ourselves a whole world of good by observing Jesus and getting understanding from what we see in him. This is so important and that is why Jesus said in the verse we’ve quoted before in this article that “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” (Mark 10:24). So if we don’t see ourselves as children with a limited understanding capacity so as to trust in Jesus to derive understanding from him, we shall of necessity wreck our faith. So we all are babes of the Kingdom of God. We may be mature in Christ, but we are still babes of the Kingdom of God and must keep learning every day from him the way little children learn from observing their surroundings.
Let us never assume we know anything or have a mind with the capacity to understand anything about Heaven. Understanding heavenly things for us, except our mind is opened is as hard as Rocket Science is to a child of four. No matter what we have attained to, we must know that the perfection of Christian maturity is Christ and so we must ever learn from him.
Lest we think Paul and other apostles called others little children to exempt themselves, hear what Paul says, “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:9 – 12). So we see here that he speaking of himself and the Christian brotherhood, he likens our present state to that of child and when we get to Heaven, he likens that to manhood. We all, while in the flesh, are babes of the Kingdom.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11 – 13). All the working of the different Christian ministries are for the perfecting of the saints. This perfection as we can see is Christ. Just as babes of this world learn by observing adults around him, so if we must grow in understanding and anything else, we must maintain a steadfast gaze on Jesus and have him for a perfect example in all things.
“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18). By a steady gaze on Christ our perfect example we can forget about the theoritising of anything. With simple gaze and absence of words, written or spoken, we can still come to that full maturity of Christ. Even when we see any theory presented to us as helpful, compare it with what you see in Christ. If it reveals more to you about Christ, please accept it with both hands. If not, refute and reject it.
So important is this practice of maintaining a gaze on Jesus and having him as our perfect example that Thomas à Kempis began his wondrous book titled The Imitation of Christ with these words, “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ.” The rest of the book, which I passionately recommend to every Christian for meditative study, emphasises the goodness of this practice.
Today we have so many false religion and doctrine flying everywhere. The amount of false doctrine that are so close to the true Christian doctrine are so much and hard to tell. Heresies both within and outside the fold of Christ tend obfuscate the truth. Don’t worry, just look to Jesus our perfect example.
We are so blessed to have Jesus for a perfect example. Thank you for reading and God bless you. Amen!
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, help us to realise our limitations pertaining to heavenly things. Teach us to observe your ways and your life and thereby be healed from all blindness of heart and other human predicaments. Help us to grow into the fullness of your stature. In your dear name we pray. Amen.