Making Jesus the Standard
This past week I was in Guatemala teaching in the Discipleship Training School offered by the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) bases in Guatemala City and Antigua. The topic for the week was Spiritual Warfare, a topic that I often teach at various YWAM bases throughout Central America.
Towards the end of the week, the Lord brought me to John 8:12 which says "Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."” As I read through the portion of scripture that followed, I began to hear Jesus whisper a very powerful word to me that instantly changed how I saw myself, others, and the various circumstances I have been facing over the last year. He said "David, I am the standard that you need to use. When you see yourself, your ministry, your family, and your friends, remember that I am the standard in which you need to see and respond to them."
What does it mean to make Jesus the standard? In Mark 10, a rich young ruler comes to Jesus to ask how he can inherit eternal life. Jesus responds with a rather interesting answer, ""Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."" One of the mistakes that the religious leaders at the time was making was comparing their own righteousness and ministries to the success and failures of others. Their concept of good was based entirely on performance, on what they could do. However, Jesus comes along and crushes that idea. "Good" is not to be based on our performance, but on God alone. In doing so, it becomes clear that our salvation and success can never be achieved on our own, but only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
So how can we practically make Jesus the standard in our life? I think it first begins with studying His word and taking note of all the details that we often don't notice. Details such as how Jesus responded to adversity, how He spoke to His disciples when they disappointed Him, how He often felt compassion for people, how He moved in power and authority, how He honored those in authority, and how He honored the Father. In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells His disciples "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Another step we can take is by daily spending time sitting quietly in His presence and letting Him fill us with His love. This means turning everything off and eliminating all distractions. We need to learn to close our Bibles, turn off our phones, find a place to be alone, and just sit there gazing at His beauty, letting Him shower us with His love. Jesus frequently modeled this for His disciples and was key to Him getting ready to endure the cruelty of the cross.
Obedience is also key to making Jesus the standard in our life. In John 17:4, Jesus is praying to the Father and says "I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." In John 5:19, He says "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does." It is very clear throughout the gospels that Jesus set a standard for us of absolute and complete obedience, no matter how difficult or painful it might have been for Him.
When we fully walk with Jesus, follow His teachings, and make Him the standard for everything, the influences of darkness no longer has an effect on us. This is exactly what Jesus promises in John 8:12! Just like the darkness goes away when we turn on the lights in our house, making Jesus the standard for our way of life sets us up for victory and success in our life and ministry. Thus, as we model His lifestyle through the study of His word, through spending time in the presence of the Father, and through absolute obedience, we send a clear message to satan and the world that Jesus is our standard.