How we learned Christ

“But you did not learn Christ in this way” (Ephesians 4:20).

“Learning Christ.”

Interesting term.

To my knowledge, this is the only occasion in Scripture where this kind of reference is made.

Paul tells the Christ-followers in Ephesus they must not continue in the same pagan way of life they see exhibited all around them, the kind out of which they themselves were yanked.

“Walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk.”  And how is that? “In the futility of their mind.”

The understanding of the unsaved is darkened. They have none of the “life of God” in them.  They are ignorant. Their hearts are hardened.

And, being callous, they have done what we might expect people to do with no hope of Heaven and no knowledge of their own culpability: they “give themselves over to sensuality.” They practice “every kind of impurity with greediness.”

But not you.

You are different.

You know better.

You have “heard (Jesus) and been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21).

You are better than that.

Better than that old lifestyle.

You understand better than those people, you know more Truth, you see more clearly.

So, walk straighter. Lie no more. Speak truth. Steal no more.  Work for whatever you need. May your words be edifying and wholesome.

No more bitterness, no more wrath and anger and ugliness.  Away with mean-spiritedness.

Be like Jesus.

Be kind to each other.  Tender-hearted.  Be quick to forgive one another. And forgive promptly and completely without the first thought of payback, the same way you were forgiven in Christ.

This is how you were “taught Christ.”

Jesus was like this.  He was not harsh and judgmental, quick to spot people engaged in wrongdoing, prompt in payback toward those mistreating Him.  So, why aren’t you like Jesus?

It’s an interesting question, one we all would do well to answer: How was I “taught Christ”?

Here’s my answer….

–I was taught by a mother who loved Jesus, lived a Christlike life, and against incredible obstacles brought her six children to the House of God every Lord’s day.  Those obstacles included a husband who gave her no support but would often be on a weekend drunk with his buddies, a one-mile walk with her brood through the woods and across fields to get to church, and for one four-year period, attending a church of a denomination she was not partial to because it was the only place of worship available in that mining camp.  I learned Christ from Lois Jane Kilgore McKeever.

–I learned Christ from Sunday School teachers, beginning with Eunice Martin when I was a preschooler and then Bill Montgomery as a teen and Bill Dempsey as a college student.  They were kind and Christlike, knew their Bibles, and loved us.

–I learned Christ from great friends like my college roommate Joel K. Davis, who was going to be in church every Sunday regardless of the difficulty, who read his Bible daily and prayed faithfully.  He was older than me, had served a four-year hitch in the Navy, and was exactly the kind of settled, Godly roommate any parent would wish for their son going off to school. (Plus, he had a car.)

–I learned Christ from teachers and professors like George Harrison and Ray Frank Robbins and Malcolm Tolbert and College Chaplain (?) Gresham. They taught the Word and knew the Lord found in that Word.

–I learned Christ from colleagues and friends in the ministry like Calvin Miller, Fisher Humphreys, and Charles Carter, Frank Pollard and Bart Neal and Don Davidson.

When I think about doing something unworthy of the Lord, taking some kind of shortcut to doing good by doing wrong, I stop and think: “What would Lois and Eunice and Bill and Bill and Joel and George and Ray Frank and Malcolm and Dr. Gresham and Calvin and Fisher and Charles and Frank and Bart and Don do?”

And then I get it right.

I would not betray what these have taught me.  They have shown me Jesus.

May the Lord help me to show the Savior to others as these have faithfully exhibited Him to me.

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