By Ron Bartanen
How do you determine what is right and what is wrong, what is godly and what is evil? Is the difference determined by the culture of the country you happen to live in? Or possibly by a church’s traditions? Or maybe by each person’s feelings as to what is right or wrong, letting one’s conscience and human reasoning be the determining factor? Or how about thinking like Jesus?
A few years ago there was a book entitled “Thinking Like Jesus,” in which researcher George Barna concluded that while in earlier years most communities were Christian-oriented in their standards—Bible-based standards—in recent decades even those claiming to be Christians have largely abandoned the Scriptures as the norm for the Christian life and doctrine. With 30 years of research, and thousands of interviews with people who claim to be “born again Christians,” he found 3 out of 4 shaped their world-view from sources other than the Bible. Even of those who claimed they rely on Biblical truth, only one out of seven believed moral truth to be absolute and unchangeable. Barna made this observation: “When people wonder why the church is losing out in American society—which seven out of ten contend—the reason is that so very few think like Jesus.”
How did Jesus think? What was His standard? Read it in Matthew 4:1-10. After Jesus’ baptism, He underwent a 40-day period of fasting, in which He was tempted three times by Satan. He quenched the devil’s fiery darts by citing Scripture, saying each time, “It is written….” The source of direction for His life was not human reasoning. Nor popular religious tradition. Nor the prevailing Jewish culture. Nor what was then “politically correct.” But Scripture. Jesus berated the religious leaders of His day for their failure to adhere to the Scriptures as their authority. He rebuked them for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7), declaring their worship to be “in vain.” He then charged, “Full well ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your tradition” (v. 9). This is followed by His reference to commands in the writings of Moses as Scripture for God’s authority. Again, in Mark 12:24, He asked, “Do ye not therefore err because ye know not the Scriptures…?” Would He not say the same to religious leaders today as they claim to honor the Bible, but, at the same time, cling to denominational creeds and dogmas that are without Scriptural warrant? There are even more and more preachers and denominations that adhere more to “politically correct” standards for morality than hold to the word of God.
To think like Jesus, let God-inspired Scriptures—the Bible—be your guide. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com