I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me. – John 14 v 6 (NIV)
Jesus spoke these words to his disciples. We therefore look to him for inspiration on how to live our lives. His teaching in the Gospels is of the highest ethical standards, yet he understands our human frailty. We can also learn a great deal from the writings of the apostles and from the Old Testament scriptures.
There are huge challenges today for anyone who tries to follow Jesus. Here are some examples.
So often success in life is measured by progression in a career, a fat salary, a nice home. However, a recent survey suggests that people in the UK are less happy today than 50 years ago, despite being much better off in the material sense. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes described all the things he had achieved and then declared them to be meaningless.
This is the problem with life when there is nothing to look forward to beyond the grave. Jesus advises us not to store up treasures on earth or even to worry about food and clothing. It is best to be content with whatever we have and not fret. It is more important to put God first in our lives.
People may get the impression, from the media, that happiness means being free to have sex with whoever they fancy, male or female. They may be dissatisfied in their relationships, believing that life would be more exciting with another partner. This so-called freedom comes at a price, with sexually transmitted diseases on the rise and more divorces, resulting in a great deal of unhappiness.
There are many warnings against sexual immorality in Paul’s letters. Jesus commends life-long marriage for a man and a woman as being God’s intention from the beginning. However, if we ask He is willing to forgive our failures and shortcomings, as is shown in his treatment of the woman caught in the act of adultery.
Apart from all the violence and aggression on our streets, often fuelled by drugs or alcohol, there are conflicts of various types going on all over the world. Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, and, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
We can try to follow this teaching on a national level by refusing to fight in the armed forces. On a personal level, we should seek for reconciliation with anyone with whom we have a problem. Violent language and swearing should be avoided.
We should always try to treat others as we would wish to be treated. The apostle Paul wrote:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13 v 4-7 (NIV)