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By: Ronnie Bray, Moroni Channel
Published: Wednesday, April 27 2016; 7:06 p.m. DMT
I learned as a young lad attending Brunswick Street Methodist Church’s Sunday School that Jesus wanted me for a sunbeam and that if I didn’t do my best to be like him, then I would forego some essential blessings.
I’ll Be A Sunbeam Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, To shine for Him each day; In every way try to please Him, At home, at school, at play.
I was also taught that Jesus was perfect, and so that if he did something, then according to Jesus, I ought to follow his example. He explained this. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
Here, Jesus is teaching his apostles the decisive doctrine that disciples of Jesus Christ will surrender their own wills and conform their hearts to the will of God. They will direct their love to God, sacrifice their bodies to the service of God, and their whole beings, to following and serving Jesus and his Father all the days of their lives. From the moment a person becomes a true disciple, that person no longer seeks his or her own pleasure as the object of existence, but renounces everything including life itself if necessary. From this call for total commitment, we learn that discipleship is not a casual employment, but an all-absorbing way of life in which the true disciple binds himself to God through Jesus Christ and obeys their wills. An essential element of discipleship is imitation. And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. ‘Follow me’ is the same as ‘Come after me’ or ‘Come with me.’ It is not an invitation but a command that includes the requirement to ‘receive my principles and teachings, and imitate my behavior, and in every other part be my devotee.’ It is a succinct call, but most of the calls of God to man are spoken in but a few words. Such calls should stagger our consciences and sway our sentiments. When God or Jesus call us it is a serious matter, and from that moment on, we are to live as Christ lived, do as he does, and be obedient to his commands. When we choose to follow Him, we use moral agency to select between right and wrong and our course is set forever. Jesus has set marks on true disciples by which they can be recognized. One of these is a loving heart. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Jesus teaches his disciples that their love for each other is the conclusive proof that they are like the Saviour, and that this resemblance will be so evident that all people shall see their love for one another and know why it is present in their lives. He explains that they will not be recognisable by certain speech or dress or ornament or manner of speech, as were the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Essenes, but by profound, unaffected, and gentle warmth with which they treat each other and with which they are treated. This behaviour towards each other distinguished the first Christians, and was remarked upon by pagans. said one,
"See how these Christians they love one another! They are ready to lay down their lives for each other."
We may be sure that if the followers of Christ do not display love one to another, they give cause for observers to suspect the sincerity of their discipleship. As to the quality of the Christian’s love, Jesus leaves us in no doubt. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. Barnes in his commentary: Notes On The Bible, says of this verse:
“This command he gave them as he was about to leave them, to be a badge of discipleship, by which they might be known as his friends and followers, and by which they might be distinguished from all others."
It is called new, not because there was no command before which required people to love their fellow-man, for one great precept of the law was that they should love their neighbour as themselves Leviticus 19:18; but it was new because it had never before been made that by which any class or body of people had been known and distinguished.
“The Jew was known by his external rites, by his uniqueness of dress, etc.; the philosopher by some other mark of distinction; the military man by another, etc. In none of these cases had love for each other been the distinguishing and special badge by which they were known. However, in the case of Christians, they were not to be known by distinctions of wealth, or learning, or fame; they were not to aspire to earthly honours; they were not to adopt any special style of dress or badge, but they were to be distinguished by tender and constant attachment to each other."
This was to surmount all distinction of country, of colour, of rank, of office, of sect. Here they were to feel that they were on a level, that they had common wants, were redeemed by the same sacred blood, and were going to the same heaven. They were to befriend each other in trials; be careful of each other's feelings and reputation; deny themselves to promote each other's welfare.
See also, 1 John 3:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; Galatians 6:2; 2 Peter 1:7.
In all these places, the command of Jesus is repeated or referred to, and it shows that the first disciples considered this indeed as the special law of Christ. This command or law was, moreover, new concerning the extent to which this love was to be carried, for he immediately adds,
"As I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
His love for them was strong, continued, unremitting, and he was now about to show his love for them in death. John 15:13; "greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." “So in 1 John 3:16 it is said, "we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren." This was a new expression of love that showed the strength of attachment we ought to have for others, and how ready we should be to endure hardships, encounter dangers, and practice self-denial to benefit those for whom the Son of God laid down his life.” As a young Methodist child, I loved to sing, “Tell me the stories of Jesus.” There was something about those ‘Tales by the wayside, tales by the sea,’ that pleasured my heart in an overwhelming but indefinable way. I knew then that it was right to want to be like Jesus and I have never swayed from that opinion, despite not always being eye to eye or heart to heart to my Preceptor, but my walk with my Saviour continues. Jesus still wants me for a Sunbeam so that I can let my light shine before men who will then glorify their Father in Heaven. That is what is meant by ‘Living the Gospel,’ and Latter-day Saints, or ‘Mormons,’ want nothing more than to glorify their God and praise and thank him for sending his Don Jesus Christ to be our Saviour, redeemer, and Advocate.
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