I was talking with a friend recently who was wrestling with figuring out “which Jesus” she should be in given situations. She was asking, should she be the gentle Jesus, the humble Jesus, or the Jesus who overturns tables? It’s a great question and one we all encounter regularly. Put more plainly, we must constantly ask ourselves, “How can I most look like Jesus in this situation?” The good news is there is only one Jesus.
So regardless of our actions, as long as we are making our decision based on the character of Christ, we will look like Jesus in that moment. While this is good to know in theory, the challenge comes in determining how this plays out in practical ways in our day to day lives.
How do we know when to be meek and gentle, and when to call out evil for what it is? Since it’s impossible to cover every circumstance here – much less assume I could possibly and definitively know the answer in every circumstance – the best I can hope to provide are the general guidelines I use in my own life. In all things, we should lead with love, since love is the essence of God. We must always ask, “What is the most loving response I could give in this moment?” Sometimes love will look like gentle nurturing; other times it be a stern admonition. But it will always feel like love.
The problem becomes more pronounced when we try to apply spiritual principles to our physical world. On the surface, it can seem difficult to discern how Jesus would respond to business issues in our jobs, or personal conflict in our relationships. The goal is always to look like Jesus. We are tasked with building the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. Our response should be the one that glorifies God and most exemplifies His Kingdom. It may be more loving to hold our tongue when we are personally attacked. At the same time, if someone else is being criticized, we are called to stand up for the oppressed (Isaiah 58:6).
Knowing Scripture is key to being able to respond appropriately in any circumstance. We need to understand all we are called to do. If we don’t know how Jesus lived, how can we expect to follow in His footsteps? All of Scripture points to Jesus and the character of God. There is no substitute for Scripture when it comes to behavioral guidance.
Which Jesus should you emulate in your current circumstances? The One you know. The only One there is. Regardless of what you’ve been taught, there is only one Jesus. He is wholly consistent. While there are many facets of His personality (we were created in His image, remember?), there should be no confusion as to who He is. Read Scripture; spend time in prayer and solitude getting to know Him. The closer you are, the more confidently you can discern how to respond to whatever life throws your way. He is love, and our responses and actions must always reflect that.