“I can understand that Jesus is our example in spiritual things, but for day-to-day living, that just doesn’t make any sense.”
My friend raised a good point.
After all, Jesus never had to deal with high school peer pressure. He never married or had the responsibility of raising children. He never experienced losing a job or having to look for work. He never had a serious illness. He never lived in a world shaped by the internet, social media or air travel.
So how could Jesus possibly be our example for daily living?
Because in spite of the difference between Jesus’ world and our lives today, Jesus was human just like us. When he was born as a baby, he laid aside his divine power and his home in glory to take on all the limitations of being human.
Jesus experienced hunger and thirst. He faced temptation. He knew how it hurt to have family who didn’t support him and friends who betrayed him. He endured disapproval and criticism. He was often at odds with the religious establishment. He faced the death of a close friend. At times he felt discouraged and even abandoned by God. He knew suffering and death.
As Heb. 4:15 says, in Jesus Christ:
we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
The specific details of Jesus’ earthly life may be different from yours and mine, but by “being born in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7), Jesus fully shared our human existence and the human challenge of day-to-day living.
From Jesus, we can learn how to deal with criticism, what to do when friends betray us, how to face temptation, how to share God’s love with other people, and much more. His experience and teaching can inform all of our relationships — our spiritual relationship with God, certainly, as well as our human relationships with spouse, children, friends, co-workers and other people in our lives.
Even where Jesus’ earthly experience differs from our own, his example can teach and challenge us.
To those who equate fulfillment in life with marriage, children and owning a home, Jesus’ singleness and itinerant ministry demonstrate a different equation for success.
To those who place great value on being well-read, well-traveled and well-rounded, Jesus’ single-minded sense of mission expresses a different sense of value.
To those who tend to reduce religion to defining and following a set of rules, Jesus’ example points beyond the letter of the law to include its spirit.
So yes, friend, Jesus is our example in spiritual things and for our earthly, day-to-day living.
Let us seek to follow Jesus, “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2).
April Yamasaki is lead pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C., and the author of Sacred Pauses (Herald Press, 2013). She blogs at aprilyamasaki.com, where this post originally appeared.