Standard of Living
As Jess and I finished up reading through the Bible in a year chronologically, 1 John 2:6 was one of those verses that just kind of startled me. I was up reading it pretty late one night, and it was one of those “wake you up and make you pay attention” type moments that you get from time-to-time when reading GOD’s Word. In fact, I immediately got out my computer and started typing this first paragraph because I did not want to forget how GOD spoke to me through His Word here. Let me type out the verse and then expound on it just a little:
“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
There are so many passages in the Bible like this one that teach us something very simple and very challenging at the same time. Think about it. It makes complete sense that we should do the things Jesus did and act the way Jesus acted. He was, after all, GOD who came and lived as a human here…Who else should we want to or be commanded to imitate?
It seems like, when we read or hear verses like these, we immediately go into what I like to call “comparison mode.” We want to compare ourselves with some type of standard to try and figure out if we are “walking as Jesus did.” We do the same thing with other passages like these:
- When Jesus tells the rich young ruler to go and sell everything he has and then follow him.
- When Jesus tells His followers that they will have to leave everything, that they will not have homes, and that “the dead can bury themselves.”
- The sheep and the goats where Jesus says, “Whatever you have done or not done for the least of these you have done or not done for me.”
There are many other passages similar to these, but these are great “comparison mode” type statements. We say things like, “I don’t have cable” or “I gave money to this person or that person” and we think that we are doing what the rich young ruler could not. We talk or think about all of the things that we have given up in our lives compared to our friends or compared to other people and we think we are doing what Jesus called His disciples to do. We add up all of the things that we have done for people who are “less fortunate” than we are, compare that with what we feel like other people have done, and think we are accomplishing what Jesus calls us to do as sheep rather than goats. Let me make my point:
We constantly and habitually use the wrong standard!
We compare ourselves to our perception of other people and the standard that our culture has placed on certain behaviors and we can convince ourselves that we are doing exceedingly well. But that is not the standard we are called to Biblically. We are called to perfection. When John tells us that if we claim to live in Him, we must walk as Jesus did he is not being abstract or calling us to try and be better than other people or hold ourselves to the standard of the world. He is quite literally saying “We must walk as Jesus did.” That is the standard. That is what we are to strive for and anything that falls short of that standard also falls short of what we are called to.
I am not saying that any of us will ever achieve perfection in this world, but it seems like the first step is figuring out the standard. Think about the standard that you shoot for every single day of your life. If you are a salesman your standard is to make a sale to everyone that you talk to. If you are a manager your standard is to get the best out of your employees on a daily basis. If you are a teacher your standard is for every single one of your students to understand their lesson every single day. If you are a husband, wife, mom, dad, etc. then your standard is to do what is best for the people in your life. Do you always achieve those standards…No. But you know what the standard is and that is what you hold yourself to.
Starting today, let’s begin to understand that our standard is Jesus Christ, GOD in the flesh. This is an extremely intimidating standard, but it is the standard to which we are called. I can get lazy and think things like, “well, I moved to Haiti and not too many other people have done that” or “I have a Seminary degree so I am doing pretty well spiritually.” These things are not my standard, the ‘world’ is not my standard, you are not my standard, and I am not yours! Trust me, if I were, you would have pretty low expectations for yourself.
My challenge for myself first and for everyone who reads this second is this: Let’s take the first step…Let’s realize that we are called to “Walk like Jesus did.” I wonder how much our lives could change if we started to strive for this every single day of our lives.