1. From the source
Think of the best chef in the world preparing the best dish. Of course, everyone wants to try it (who cares if it’s got a little meat 😉 Now what about your Dad trying to make the recipe on his own for the first time? Don’t get me wrong, Papa is a great chef, but not as good as the master chef. He wouldn’t be able to represent the dish as accurately as the master chef even if he was told the exact recipe as the master chef. So if given the choice, why would we eat the meal from Dad instead of the master chef?*
This is the common misconception of Christianity today. Even Jesus spoke against having sects in Christianity. Here’s the problem: These sects stem from us eating the bread of life from imitators of Christ. (Matthew 4:4) Many people in Christianity are imitators of certain disciples but not others: “Well I agree with Paul, not so much James.” But we end up building our life around the principles of imitators of Christ, not the source. We even base our life around our pastors, but they aren’t perfect either.
2. Imitators of Christ
A lot of Bible studies I’ve been in like to focus on Paul’s writing. That’s good, but this is vanity and a grave misfortune; see, I had never read a Gospel and dissected it; I knew who Paul was in Jesus Christ before I knew who Jesus was. Now, Paul’s life is different from Jesus’, as it should be; and none of these disciples were perfect, like Jesus was. Debatably, Paul was somewhat of a people pleaser by nature (1 Corinthians 10:32-33), and he used it for the glory of God(1 Cor 9:20-22, Hebrews 12:14). But we should not strive to be just like Paul, although that was his calling.
God uses our sin for His glory; but Jesus didn’t care what people thought of Him from that standpoint-He was just doing His Father’s will. Jesus didn’t have any sin in His life to be used. Jesus calls us to say something to our brothers when they are doing something wrong, and that’s not people pleasing, that’s doing God’s will, regardless of whether or not they wanna hear it (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus Himself said He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword! He came to set a son against His Father and a daughter against her mother (Matthew 10:34-39).
Paul cooks the main dish well, and Jesus is the source of it and cooks it better since He’s perfect. If Paul had a copy of a gospel, I’m sure he would have sent that to everyone along with his letters to show people Jesus’ perfect life, but that’s just not how it was back then.
When we are comparing ourselves to others, even the disciples and pastors, we are comparing ourselves to sinful beings, rather than the perfect One. Think of it like music, when a passionate, skillful cellist compares himself with Yo Yo Ma, he feels quite obsolete and that he must practice more than if he is only comparing himself with his cello teacher.
Paul, amazing as he is through the Holy Spirit, uses his people pleasing for God’s glory and to spread the gospel. Chances are, most people using the excuse of people pleasing are not doing this with it. If you aren’t going to use people pleasing to spread the word, it’s much better to get up in (prideful) people’s faces, like Jesus, and ask tough questions, and say it like it is (Matthew 16:23). Certainly, Jesus only did this with the prideful, rather than the humble. See, all the disciples were different based on what they learned from Jesus; they didn’t want people to follow them, but rather, Jesus. Not saying Jesus wasn’t compassionate, but when something was out of line, He said something about it.
3. Enter by the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14)
Many people assume the easy way for Christianity, “Well, Paul says this to these people so I’m gonna do that because it still lets me do what I want.” Or “I like this pastor’s interpretation of the verse better.” Better to assume the hardest way “because narrow is the pathway and difficult is the way that leads to life and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:14) Jesus wants us to give it all up (Matthew 19:16-26). We must hand over the car keys to Jesus and sit in the passenger seat.
Rather than taking the scripture that’s the easiest to follow, lets raise the bar and take some of the hardest things Jesus said (ie Matthew 7:21-23) and have those be the new standard of our lives. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you, we’ll become less focused on the world, and more focused on heaven and the will of our Father. For it is better to have pressure in this world, as Jesus did, knowing that we’ll soon be out of this world and in paradise. (John 16:33, Hebrews 12:2)
(PS: please comment below if you think this is theologically bogus-I’m not trying to do that; but rather, fixate our gaze even more on Jesus)