Following the example of Jesus
Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus and in His love is essential. From there it is only a small step to responding to His love by doing good works. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider mentions seven ways we can combine our faith with works.
On 20 August 2017 the Chief Apostle conducted a divine service in the Estádio das Mangueiras in Saurimo (Angola), which was attended by 3,200 brothers and sisters. For his sermon he chose a passage from Titus: “… who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2: 14).
Jesus Christ is the standard
The grace of God was manifested in the life and death of Jesus Christ, Chief Apostle Schneider said. Jesus Christ came to earth and sacrificed His life in order to deliver human beings from evil, to erase original sin, and to forgive sins. Through His example and teaching we learn to live a life that is pleasing to God and to prepare ourselves for the return of Christ.
How can we live a Christian life in the twenty-first century?
1. By renouncing evil. “When we look at the suffering and death of Christ the true nature of evil becomes apparent. Jesus had to suffer through hatred, violence, and injustice. The people were corrupt and were full of lies and hypocrisy.” We do not want to be slaves of such a power, the Chief Apostle continued.
2. By practising the gospel. “Jesus died to deliver us from sin. Why did He do that? Because He loves us! Let us model our lives on His word, His gospel. We practise His teaching not out of fear of being punished or because we want to earn something for ourselves. We keep His word because we have recognised the love of Jesus.”
3. By following Jesus. “Jesus gave His life so that we might be with Him. Our love for Him prompts us to seek His nearness. We always seek His fellowship: this is something we do today in divine service—where we seek His fellowship in Holy Communion—and we yearn to have eternal fellowship with Him in heaven.”
4. By showing humility and repentance. “The Lord Jesus triumphed over sin and death because He was absolutely sinless. He received the resurrection body and was able to return to the Father. We have the same goal: to enter the kingdom of God, and to be with the Father and the Son. But we notice that despite all efforts we continue to be fallible. We are completely dependent on grace, which is why we are humble before God, show remorse, and repent.”
5. By forgiving our neighbour. “We need the forgiveness of our sins. The Lord Jesus grants grace to the humble. How can we thank the Lord for the grace He grants us? By forgiving our neighbour as he forgives us. Let us forgive our neighbour out of thankfulness for the grace that God has granted us.”
6. By overcoming trials. “The Son of God was in heaven, but because He wanted to save us He became incarnate and came to earth. He went through everything that human beings have to go through too. Humans suffer from injustice, something Jesus too suffered. Humans feel sorrow; so did Jesus. Humans are betrayed. Jesus was betrayed too. Humans must die. As a human, Jesus died too. Because we love Jesus we are prepared to suffer for Him and with Him. We submit to trials and accept them. We give up many things because we follow Jesus Christ.”
7. By being witnesses of Christ. “Jesus Christ brought His sacrifice for all of mankind. It is our desire that as many people as possible can participate in this sacrifice and His salvation. That is why we serve the Lord. Let us tell our neighbour about the gospel. Let us be true witnesses of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.”
Summary: Jesus’ sacrifice and His teaching encourage us to renounce evil, live a life pleasing to God, and prepare ourselves for the return of Christ.