The Means of Jesus: the Ways of God, pt. 1

The Scriptures reveal that there is a difference between God’s thoughts and man’s thoughts and a distinction between His ways and ours.  Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

This truth is greatly evident in the story of Jesus’ birth.  If He is God, why in the world was He born in an obscure cave in the little town of Bethlehem and laid in a manger stained with the saliva of animals?  Not only that, but why was He born to commoners, given a very common name of the times (Yeoshua, or Joshua) and most likely pointed out by his peers as the one whose mom became pregnant before she was married?  Not exactly the way you or I might script the coming of the Son of God to the planet!  Ye He came in a way that would allow us to identify with Him as Immanuel, “God with us.”

Sometimes Jesus did things that cause us to go ‘huh?”  The story of Lazarus recorded in John 11 is one example.  Why didn’t Jesus rush to the aid of His dear friend when He learned that Lazarus was ill?  Our typical response when informed of such news would be both swift and deliberate—swift to get to our friend’s side at their home or the hospital, and deliberate to arrive with a card, food, or gift in hand.  Not Jesus.  He waited around until Lazarus died, and then He went!  What’s with that?

As much as Jesus was moved by people’s needs, ultimately He was obedient to God!  If we tie together this truth with what we learned from our last one, we understand that Jesus went to Lazarus when He did because that’s when the Father led Him to go.  Jesus was not being super-spiritual here, or out of touch with reality, but He was walking in the “ways of God.”  And after looking at the end of this story and the fruit in the lives of its key players, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who could argue with His actions?

What are the ways of God revealed here?  We are not driven by needs, but rather we are to be led in obedience.  In reality, if each one of us were obedient to what Jesus asked us to do, every need would be met!  Because He is the wisest, He knows what each one of us should do and why, as well as when and how it should be done.  In the end, this gives Him the most glory!

Another “huh?” moment, also recorded in John, was when Jesus began to wash the feet of His disciples.  It was common in the culture for hospitable hosts to greet their guests—who all wore sandals—by offering water for them to wash their own feet, or by offering water for them to wash their own feet, or by offering to have their servants do it.  Yet, in our story, Jesus, the Master, does it.  Jesus’ actions were nearly incomprehensible to Peter, who first refused before allowing Jesus to wash his feet.  What’s the deal here? 

Jesus used this act to teach His disciples about the role of leaders in His Kingdom.  He said, “Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and your are right, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13-12-15).  Our viewpoint as leaders can tend to be, “You’re on my team to serve me.”  In His Kingdom, the ways of God are for leaders to serve those who follow them.  Imagine the transformation that could occur in the lives of people, organizations, and domains of society if we modeled and multiplied this attitude!

Reflection Points

What other examples from Scripture illustrate the ways of God? 

What comes to mind in your life when you think of the phrase “doing God’s work my way”?

In taking an honest heart evaluation, what percentage of time do you seek the ways of God when implementing what you believe the Lord Jesus wants you to do—both in your personal life and in your calling/vocation?

  • 0-10% — I rarely, if ever, seek God’s ways
  • 10-25% — Only when I’m really, really desperate
  • 25-50% — When things aren’t working, I sometimes do
  • 50-75% — I’m seeking them more often than not
  • 75-100% — it has been, or is becoming my common practice