I’ll never forget the first day I walked into Mr. Hall’s 9th grade Algebra class. Brad Star, who was my friend since junior high, was the class clown and I was his assistant. That day, Brad started up his usual antics when suddenly Mr. Hall turned to him and said sternly, “Mr. Star, you are now excused!” And just like that, my friend was gone.
From day one, everyone in the class took Mr. Hall very seriously. I quickly learned that I’d better sit quietly and not talk. I also learned that only number 2 pencils were accepted, and my homework should be completed on time and at the top of my desk in the beginning of class.
As time passed, something happened. For the first time in my life, I realized that someone was helping me understand what math was all about. I didn’t hate it anymore! My academic career had just taken a turn for the better. And all this happened because I took Mr. Hall very seriously.
I wonder, how many of us take Jesus seriously? How much impact does Jesus have on our lives? If we were to examine our time, actions, thoughts, and finances, how much are we really considering Him?
According to Jesus, to whatever extent we take seriously His words and put them into practice, we also take Him seriously.
So, what did Jesus say?
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Later, to his disciples his said: Here’s a new commandment, that you love one another even as I have love you. Even as you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples. (John 13:34-35)
Jesus said that we are to love our neighbor as our self. But what makes this a new commandment? Before this, God commanded us to love the way we wanted to be loved. Now, Jesus commands us to love others the way He loved them.
“…Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friend.” (John 15:12)
Jesus gave this command after He showed His disciples what love looks like. On the last night Jesus spends with the disciples, He gets up from their meal and washes their feet. How could He do this? He’s the Lord!
They know who He is! They knew He was the Messiah, and they knew He was God in their midst. Yet that day, the God of the Universe washed their feet! Jesus deserved worship and homage, and He became a servant. Why?
Jesus was secure in who He was and where He was going. By washing their feet, He demonstrated exactly the kind of love he wants us to have for others.
This kind of love is sacrificial. It means dying to ourselves by putting others first. It involves crucifying our “me-first mindset.” It also means willfully not regarding position or status or how people perceive us and to lay aside our ego and insecurity issues.
Loving the way Jesus loves means giving to other people what they don’t deserve in order to meet their greatest need, even when their hearts aren’t open to you.
Do you know the mark of someone who takes Jesus seriously? It’s not how much they know, what church they go to, or how well they can teach. It’s about the degree to which they love other believers with a radical self-sacrificing love.
My hope is that we’ll take seriously Christ’s instructions to foster authentic, caring relationships both within our homes and churches.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip