“To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.’” - John 8:31
In Jesus’ day, His teachings were radically different than the norms of His culture. A Jewish society that had a very strict code of laws, and conduct associated with the law, was hearing Jesus say to serve the poor, forgive their enemies, and love others as themselves. He told them that life was not about following the rules, but about following God. As they grew to become more like Christ, actions would naturally follow. His teaching was exceedingly simple in comparison to what they knew, but incredibly difficult to live out.
Today, if we want to hold on to a true relationship with Jesus, a true life of living for God, then the Bible says we should hold to the teachings of Jesus. And just like in Jesus’ time, His teaching is radically different in comparison to the world around us. In our culture, it’s every man for himself - acquiring a better life for his family, approaching a level of comfort personally, and avoiding risks while savoring rewards. Jesus’ self-less teaching seems oddly out of place in our selfish society.
But Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said to love those that hate us, serve the least of these around us, and go into all of the world and share His salvation message. He knew that underneath all of the cultural changes, the deepest needs of today’s world would be no different than in His own time and that the challenges we face today are the same as they were 2,000 years ago. We must hold on to the truth of God’s Word, and live first for God, and not for ourselves.
Things were radically different in Jesus’ time, but in some ways, things haven't changed all that much. When the early church was founded, people were killed for their faith; that still happens today in many areas of the world. In our culture, Christianity is deemed fundamentalist, bigoted, and out of step with modern society. People don’t get angry over it; they just ignore it or tell us to turn it off. This is the challenge of holding to the truth.
Jesus, thank You for giving me truths to live by. Help me to love others more than myself, to serve those who don’t have the resources that I do, and to share Your Gospel with everyone I come into contact with. May my life reflect Your Truth every day. In Your name, amen.