Removing Barriers

For this reason he {Jesus} had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

– Hebrews 2:17-18 (NIV)

As the supreme example of becoming approachable, Jesus came to earth in human form and experienced life on the same level as the rest of us. Our Lord and God become one of us. Although this is hard enough to believe, the way in which Jesus chose to live among us is even more amazing. We would expect God to come with all the pomp of a king. This is what the Jews were expecting of their messiah. But he didn’t. Jesus didn’t come as a king, a priest, or in the form of any other “important” person.

Instead, Jesus came as a commoner. He laid aside his riches and became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), like the majority of the world. He who was equal with God came as a servant obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus took on the nature of a commoner because that was how he could minister most effectively to commoners.

Read through the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus and one thing will catch your attention. Where ever Jesus went, people followed. They would freely come to him with their problems, knowing he would hear them and help them. He did not look down on them as unworthy of his attention. Would this kind of life have been possible if Jesus came as a king or priest?

This should be an example for us, in how we are to relate to others. Just as Jesus bridged the gap between God and man by becoming like us, we need to try to eliminate, as much as possible, the differences between us and the ones we come in contact with, so we can witness and minister effectively to them. After all, the difference between the most righteous and the most evil among men is miniscule compared to the difference between God and man.

Paul put this to practice in his ministry. He made himself a servant of all so he could win as many as possible to Christ. With the Jews, he acted jewish. With gentiles, he acted “gentile-ish”. With the weak, he became weak (refering, I believe, to refraining from exercising his freedom in Christ if it would hurt someone whose faith was weak). Paul did not build walls around himself. He left the elite Pharisees, those whose attitude separated them from many of even their own countrymen, and went to minister and fellowship with gentiles, the “unclean”. He did this because spreading the gospel message was more important than maintaining a good reputation with the folks back home.

We Christians are not to keep our influence locked away behind church doors. Follow Jesus’ example. He was a friend of sinners, even though He did not act like them. He was righteous, yet his ministry was not to the “righteous” but to sinners. Jesus came into the world and was very much “in the world”, but he was not of it. Let us follow his example.

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