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Following Jesus Today

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We often suggest to readers of this blog that one of the most valuable things they can learn is the religious life of Jesus and how he lived it. The Urantia Book goes so far as to say that to really "follow Jesus," the religious life of the Master must be studied so that one can "find out what Jesus believed, to discover his ideals, and to strive for the achievement of his exalted life purpose." So, when we saw this article called: What does it look like to really follow Jesus? in the Religious News Service, we felt it was a good opportunity to discuss that idea; we'll do that below. The article consists of a review of a book called: Into His Likeness: Be transformed as a disciple of Christ by Dr Edward Sri, which looks like a good read for anyone interested in following Jesus. Here are a few ideas from the review of this book:

"We must remember two basic truths: First, the truth of our weaknesses, wounds and sins (A). And second, the truth of what we're made for — healing and perfection in Christ (B). Living as a disciple is all about the process of getting from A to B," Sri says.

"But on a practical level, how does one answer that gentle tugging of the Holy Spirit and experience lasting transformation in Christ? Sri structures INTO HIS LIKENESS in three parts: what it means to be a disciple, how to experience the transformation Christ wants to accomplish in our lives and how to deepen our encounter with God throughout our lives.

"At the end of every chapter, Sri offers reflection questions to help the reader consider the next steps God wants them to take as disciples. INTO HIS LIKENESS demonstrates what a transformative change in life looks like and how the reader can turn their love of Jesus from a fan to a disciple, to walk with Christ and be transformed by Him."

Click to read more


Valuable Knowledge

This article, and the book that it reviews are fine as they are - "grounded in Scripture" is where most people who folow Jesus are coming from. And there's nothing wrong with that, as far as it goes. But many followers of Jesus who visit want to know more about him than can be found in Scripture. The Urantia Book delivers that, and more...

The Urantia Book, a modern-day revelation of God from celestial government to mankind on earth, contains the whole of Jesus' life. Covering practically one-third of this 2000 page tome, The Life and Teachings of Jesus reveal the Master as no other source on the planet. There's a good reason that the authors of the book tell us that this is the most valuable knowledge we can have. Why? Because as well as being a divine Son of God, Jesus lived a human life, a life like ours in all respects. And from the study of that life as presented in The Urantia Book, we can glean practical ideas of how to formulate our own lives ... ways to behave and qualities we might want to cultivate in our own personalities.

Jesus had a life that lasted nearly 36 years, but only a precious few are covered in Scripture. What was the rest of his life like? He had a childhood, an adolescence, and a young manhood before the public life that is covered in the Bible. Go HERE to find many stories of those so-called missing years. And not all of them are from the lost years; The Urantia Book fleshes out the Master's public years as well.

What exactly was Jesus' "exalted life purpose?"

The Urantia Book teaches us that

196:1.3 To "follow Jesus" means to personally share his religious faith and to enter into the spirit of the Master's life of unselfish service for man.


196:1.1 Jesus' devotion to the Father's will and the service of man was even more than mortal decision and human determination; it was a wholehearted consecration of himself to such an unreserved bestowal of love. No matter how great the fact of the sovereignty of Michael, you must not take the human Jesus away from men. The Master has ascended on high as a man, as well as God; he belongs to men; men belong to him. How unfortunate that religion itself should be so misinterpreted as to take the human Jesus away from struggling mortals! Let not the discussions of the humanity or the divinity of the Christ obscure the saving truth that Jesus of Nazareth was a religious man who, by faith, achieved the knowing and the doing of the will of God; he was the most truly religious man who has ever lived on Urantia. (italics by ed.)

In discovering details of his life, we, too, can strive to achieve these ideals and goals. Jesus was - and still is - a human being like you or me. And because he lived what the Urantia Book calls "an average human life," studying what he did, what he taught, what was important to him, how he impacted others, and the religion he taught and followed can help all of us become more like him - even in our modern, busy, 21st century lives lives. Jesus is the perfect guide to a God-centered life

Even though more than 2000 years have elapsed between his life and ours, he still grappled with many of the same challenges that we face; he dealt with people and ideals, duty and sorrow, joy and loss - just as we do. And seeing how he lived to find and do the Father's will and serve others can inspire each of us as we strive to "follow him." Here are just a few instances where we can learn life lessons from Jesus:

Jesus' Parenting Skills

Every parent might benefit by finding out what kind of parent Jesus was to his fatherless siblings after Joseph died when Jesus was 14. What was he like as a surrogate father to them?

127:4.2 By the beginning of this year [his nineteenth] Jesus had fully won his mother to the acceptance of his methods of child training—the positive injunction to do good in the place of the older Jewish method of forbidding to do evil. In his home and throughout his public-teaching career Jesus invariably employed the positive form of exhortation. Always and everywhere did he say, "You shall do this—you ought to do that." Never did he employ the negative mode of teaching derived from the ancient taboos. He refrained from placing emphasis on evil by forbidding it, while he exalted the good by commanding its performance. Prayer time in this household was the occasion for discussing anything and everything relating to the welfare of the family.

Jesus began wise discipline upon his brothers and sisters at such an early age that little or no punishment was ever required to secure their prompt and wholehearted obedience. The only exception was Jude, upon whom on sundry occasions Jesus found it necessary to impose penalties for his infractions of the rules of the home. On three occasions when it was deemed wise to punish Jude for self-confessed and deliberate violations of the family rules of conduct, his punishment was fixed by the unanimous decree of the older children and was assented to by Jude himself before it was inflicted.

While Jesus was most methodical and systematic in everything he did, there was also in all his administrative rulings a refreshing elasticity of interpretation and an individuality of adaptation that greatly impressed all the children with the spirit of justice which actuated their father-brother. He never arbitrarily disciplined his brothers and sisters, and such uniform fairness and personal consideration greatly endeared Jesus to all his family.

What are some of Jesus' most loved qualities?

Sometimes, what others notice about a person as is important as seeing the person himself; What did the apostles, who spent the most time with Jesus in those last years, think of him?

Andrew admired Jesus because of his consistent sincerity, his unaffected dignity.

The one trait which Peter most admired in Jesus was his supernal tenderness and forbearance.

That characteristic of Jesus which James most admired was the Master's sympathetic affection.

Those characteristics of Jesus which John most appreciated were the Master's love and unselfishness.

The one quality about Jesus which Philip so continuously admired was the Master's unfailing generosity.

Nathaniel most revered Jesus for his tolerance. He never grew weary of contemplating the broadmindedness and generous sympathy of the Son of Man.

It was the Master's forgiving disposition which Matthew most appreciated.

Thomas revered his Master because of his superbly balanced character.

The Alpheus twins especially loved Jesus because of the Master's simplicity and unostentatious humility.

The one thing about Jesus which Simon so much admired was the Master's calmness, his assurance, poise, and inexplicable composure.

How did Jesus teach truth?

What was his advice on evangelizing? Here's just a sampling of the Master's advice that all believers who wish to spread the truth of the Gospel can follow:

Always respect the personality of man. Never should a righteous cause be promoted by force; spiritual victories can be won only by spiritual power. This injunction against the employment of material influences refers to psychic force as well as to physical force. Overpowering arguments and mental superiority are not to be employed to coerce men and women into the kingdom. Man's mind is not to be crushed by the mere weight of logic or overawed by shrewd eloquence. While emotion as a factor in human decisions cannot be wholly eliminated, it should not be directly appealed to in the teachings of those who would advance the cause of the kingdom. Make your appeals directly to the divine spirit that dwells within the minds of men. Do not appeal to fear, pity, or mere sentiment. In appealing to men, be fair; exercise self-control and exhibit due restraint; show proper respect for the personalities of your pupils. Remember that I have said: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, and if any man will open, I will come in."

In bringing men into the kingdom, do not lessen or destroy their self-respect. While overmuch self-respect may destroy proper humility and end in pride, conceit, and arrogance, the loss of self-respect often ends in paralysis of the will. It is the purpose of this gospel to restore self-respect to those who have lost it and to restrain it in those who have it. Make not the mistake of only condemning the wrongs in the lives of your pupils; remember also to accord generous recognition for the most praiseworthy things in their lives. Forget not that I will stop at nothing to restore self-respect to those who have lost it, and who really desire to regain it.

Take care that you do not wound the self-respect of timid and fearful souls. Do not indulge in sarcasm at the expense of my simple-minded brethren. Be not cynical with my fear-ridden children. Idleness is destructive of self-respect; therefore, admonish your brethren ever to keep busy at their chosen tasks, and put forth every effort to secure work for those who find themselves without employment.

Never be guilty of such unworthy tactics as endeavoring to frighten men and women into the kingdom. A loving father does not frighten his children into yielding obedience to his just requirements.

How did Jesus respond to the unbeliever?

Did Jesus teach everyone he met about God? How did he treat unbelievers? Did he treat all people the same?

132:7.1 Jesus, Gonod, and Ganid made five trips away from Rome to points of interest in the surrounding territory. On their visit to the northern Italian lakes Jesus had the long talk with Ganid concerning the impossibility of teaching a man about God if the man does not desire to know God. They had casually met a thoughtless pagan while on their journey up to the lakes, and Ganid was surprised that Jesus did not follow out his usual practice of enlisting the man in conversation which would naturally lead up to the discussion of spiritual questions. When Ganid asked his teacher why he evinced so little interest in this pagan, Jesus answered:

"Ganid, the man was not hungry for truth. He was not dissatisfied with himself. He was not ready to ask for help, and the eyes of his mind were not open to receive light for the soul. That man was not ripe for the harvest of salvation; he must be allowed more time for the trials and difficulties of life to prepare him for the reception of wisdom and higher learning. Or, if we could have him live with us, we might by our lives show him the Father in heaven, and thus would he become so attracted by our lives as sons of God that he would be constrained to inquire about our Father. You cannot reveal God to those who do not seek for him; you cannot lead unwilling souls into the joys of salvation. Man must become hungry for truth as a result of the experiences of living, or he must desire to know God as the result of contact with the lives of those who are acquainted with the divine Father before another human being can act as the means of leading such a fellow mortal to the Father in heaven. If we know God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives, and thus will all God-seeking persons see the Father and ask for our help in finding out more about the God who in this manner finds expression in our lives."

Advice for all of us

Did he have a personal ministry before his public ministry? Who did he meet "as he passed by," and what did he say?

133:4.13 Jesus enjoyed many intimate talks with a large number of hungry souls, too many to find a place in this record.

But you can click here and read a great number of those encounters during the time of his two-year tour of the Mediterranean. From the Roman centurian, to the waitress, to the condemned criminal, to the runaway lad ... hidden in these encounters are gems of advice for each of us, too.

How did Jesus pray?

What did Jesus say about prayer? How did he himself pray?

144:3.17 Jesus taught that effective prayer must be:

1. Unselfish —not alone for oneself.

2. Believing—according to faith.

3. Sincere—honest of heart.

4. Intelligent—according to light.

5. Trustful—in submission to the Father's all-wise will.

When Jesus spent whole nights on the mountain in prayer, it was mainly for his disciples, particularly for the twelve. The Master prayed very little for himself, although he engaged in much worship of the nature of understanding communion with his Paradise Father.

196:0.10 When you study the career of the Master, as concerns prayer or any other feature of the religious life, look not so much for what he taught as for what he did. Jesus never prayed as a religious duty. To him prayer was a sincere expression of spiritual attitude, a declaration of soul loyalty, a recital of personal devotion, an expression of thanksgiving, an avoidance of emotional tension, a prevention of conflict, an exaltation of intellection, an ennoblement of desire, a vindication of moral decision, an enrichment of thought, an invigoration of higher inclinations, a consecration of impulse, a clarification of viewpoint, a declaration of faith, a transcendental surrender of will, a sublime assertion of confidence, a revelation of courage, the proclamation of discovery, a confession of supreme devotion, the validation of consecration, a technique for the adjustment of difficulties, and the mighty mobilization of the combined soul powers to withstand all human tendencies toward selfishness, evil, and sin. He lived just such a life of prayerful consecration to the doing of his Father's will and ended his life triumphantly with just such a prayer. The secret of his unparalleled religious life was this consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship—unbroken communion with God—and not by leadings, voices, visions, or extraordinary religious practices.

What kind of religion did Jesus practice?

Obviously, Jesus did not follow any religion called "Christianity," even though that religion claims him as its founder. Jesus was not a Christian; Jesus was raised as a Jew, but his personal breand of religion transcended Judaism in his day, and still today transcends Christianity and all other earthly rteligions.

But Jesus certainly did follow a religion during the whole of his life. Using the technique of faith, and yielding the fruits of personal spiritual experience with God, the Religion of Jesus is the religion that he modeled for all of us who came after him. Click on the underlined links for details.

The Acme

Finally, we have the superb section of the Urantia Book called: The Acme of Religious Living. Here are but a few of it's inspiring opening paragraphs that point out the qualities of the Master that we can emulate as we too, strive for balanced characters.

100:7.1 Although the average mortal of Urantia cannot hope to attain the high perfection of character which Jesus of Nazareth acquired while sojourning in the flesh, it is altogether possible for every mortal believer to develop a strong and unified personality along the perfected lines of the Jesus personality. The unique feature of the Master's personality was not so much its perfection as its symmetry, its exquisite and balanced unification. The most effective presentation of Jesus consists in following the example of the one who said, as he gestured toward the Master standing before his accusers, "Behold the man!"

The unfailing kindness of Jesus touched the hearts of men, but his stalwart strength of character amazed his followers. He was truly sincere; there was nothing of the hypocrite in him. He was free from affectation; he was always so refreshingly genuine. He never stooped to pretense, and he never resorted to shamming. He lived the truth, even as he taught it. He was the truth. He was constrained to proclaim saving truth to his generation, even though such sincerity sometimes caused pain. He was unquestioningly loyal to all truth.

But the Master was so reasonable, so approachable. He was so practical in all his ministry, while all his plans were characterized by such sanctified common sense. He was so free from all freakish, erratic, and eccentric tendencies. He was never capricious, whimsical, or hysterical. In all his teaching and in everything he did there was always an exquisite discrimination associated with an extraordinary sense of propriety.

The Son of Man was always a well-poised personality. Even his enemies maintained a wholesome respect for him; they even feared his presence. Jesus was unafraid. He was surcharged with divine enthusiasm, but he never became fanatical. He was emotionally active but never flighty. He was imaginative but always practical. He frankly faced the realities of life, but he was never dull or prosaic. He was courageous but never reckless; prudent but never cowardly. He was sympathetic but not sentimental; unique but not eccentric. He was pious but not sanctimonious. And he was so well-poised because he was so perfectly unified.

Jesus' originality was unstifled. He was not bound by tradition or handicapped by enslavement to narrow conventionality. He spoke with undoubted confidence and taught with absolute authority. But his superb originality did not cause him to overlook the gems of truth in the teachings of his predecessors and contemporaries. And the most original of his teachings was the emphasis of love and mercy in the place of fear and sacrifice.

Read ALL of his life

These examples of Jesus' religious life are just barely scratching the surface of what The Urantia Book's restatement of Jesus' teachings offer. If you truly want more of Jesus, and to really follow him, please go HERE to access his full life story - knowledge of the "greatest value" you can ever possess.

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