You’ve heard the phrase, “If (fill in the blank) jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?” This was such a popular phrase when I was a kid. I’m not entirely sure where or when it was generated, but the phrase is used by parents when a kid uses popular opinion or behavior to justify why they made a rash decision. For example, you might hear something like, “All the cool kids got tattoos on their foreheads,” or “Everyone at school just bought $75 jeans.” This type of statement would then be followed up with the “If so and so jumped off a bridge…” question, to help their kid try and see how extreme their reasoning really was. It made sense to the kid to feel that way because they just wanted to fit in and feel a part of something, but in the adult mind, the decision that they just made was so irrational.
I use this example not to advocate this as an effective parenting tool; I use this to lead us to something I have been thinking long and hard on recently, something that has a very similar idea to the “If so and so jumped off a bridge…” question. Here is where I am going. I am just finishing up a 90-day reading plan where I am reading through the New Testament. I have read the books of the New Testament probably more than the other books in the Bible, but I just wanted to go back through and read them again with purpose…not just to say that I have read the New Testament, but to read it from the perspective of what I can learn from the story and life of Jesus. I basically know what Jesus is about, and have a basic understanding of His message and what He calls each of us who call Him our Savior to do. But that is the problem…my faith can often be very basic. Not unfruitful because I am experiencing spiritual growth, but in comparison to the life of Jesus my faith is extremely basic. Yes, I know it may be a little unfair to compare my faith to His, but isn’t being like Jesus the very ache of our existence? Well, I’ll admit that sometimes I neglect that ache and pursue a life that looks very different from that of Jesus. So, with that purpose in mind, I have been, as James puts it, “looking intently” (James 1:25) into the Word, like “The earnest student of the Scriptures stoops down in humility of body and mind to learn what the will of their Author may be” (commentary by Ellicott).
This has been so much fun and really has shed a great deal of new light on how I still need to grow as a follower of Christ. More than that, it has revealed to me the exact reason why I choose to strive to be like Christ, why I strive to love as Christ loves, why I endure suffering, why I make sacrifices, why I pray for my enemies, why I choose to “jump off the bridge” if you will and do what the world may see as foolish. It I not a matter of “If Jesus did this, would you?” It is a matter of Jesus led the way through His example, and therefore I strive to do whatever He calls me to do. I know the bridge example is extreme, but I use it to demonstrate my new-found motivation for living as Jesus did. It all stems from Jesus doing those things first. He loved me first, He died for me, He stayed pure for me, He suffered for me, He yearned for me, He stepped down into my world to know me better, He is nonsensically patient and gracious with me. Therefore I “Consider Him who endured” so that I do not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3). He is my example and my reason for all the choices I make in Christ. He is the “founder and perfecter” of my faith (Hebrews 12:2).