Summary: Instead of going into a long explanation on subjects, Jesus taught in principles saying, "When you pray, say, . . ." and He gave them a pattern that also included prayer principles.
Why Jesus Chose to Not React to Cultural or Temperaments but Focused on Principles
John 4:23-34 - "Yet, a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth... My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work."
Illustration: Jesus used the example method when His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. Instead of going into a long dissertation on the subject, He said, "When you pray, say, . . ." and He gave them a pattern that also included prayer principles.
That prayer has at least four elements we can learn to use when we pray: Adoration, Confession, Temptation protection, and Supplication. Let’s consider the ACTS of prayer.
Adoration: "Hallowed be Your name." We need to give allegiance and respect to our great and awesome God.
Confession: "Forgive us our sins." God is "faithful and just to forgive us" (1 Jn. 1:9).
Temptation protection: "Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Ask for help to say no to sin.
Supplication: "Give us day by day our daily bread." We should not be afraid to ask God for His provisions.
Illustration: Geoffrey, a dedicated believer, took seriously our Lord’s command about turning the other cheek, yet he misunderstood the meaning of what Christ taught. When a man struck him, for example, he turned the other side of his face to his assailant and allowed him to hit it again. He said, "I have now fulfilled the Lord’s command." Then he proceeded to pound his foe into submission. That’s quite obviously not what Jesus had in mind.
The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy also misinterpreted this command. He said that we should be completely nonresistant when people steal from us or hurt us. His theory was that the wicked would soon be so ashamed that they would correct their ways. But his logic was wrong. Society doesn’t operate that way. Without the restraining force of the police, the wicked would completely overpower decent, law-abiding citizens.
What then did Jesus mean when He told us that we should turn the other cheek? He was saying we should not let the desire to get even dominate our lives. Instead, we should be governed by the principles of giving and forgiving. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, we can do exactly what Jesus commanded. (Our Daily Bread, Jan, 1999)
1. Jesus knew that He could have been accused of partiality by giving favorable treatment to the rich young ruler over the woman at Jacob’s well. Surely, Jesus understood all of the elements of social-cultural norms and the intricacies of personalities, but He chose to objectively address all people with truth, facts and principles that could transcend all cultures and personality types.
2. Jesus knew that individuals tend to subjectively be drawn to others with similar cultural and personality traits. The Lord wanted to leave behind an example of treating people according to an agape love that was not conditioned on favorable subjective feelings or common traits. Jesus said, "By this will all men know that you are my disciples because you have love for one another." (John 13:34,35)
Quote: It is not necessary to like someone before you can love them with the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Jesus knew that certain ethnic groups would tend to limit the spread of the gospel because of their ethnocentric tendencies. The sovereignty of God allowed the Jewish temple to be destroyed in 70 AD and this put the onus of responsibility of the 18,000 Gentile people groups of the world to take the gospel to all the nations. Whenever ethnic groups start to feel superior or they try to isolate themselves from others, the Lord would allow circumstances to press them into integration with a wider ethnic diverse exposure. He desires that all men would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Pet 3)
4. Jesus stayed with the facts in every conversation. He wanted to stress the priorities of truth that would effect people with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. The Lord knew that certain personalities and ethnic groups are known for their tendencies to become angry, fearful, emotional, jealous, envious, greedy, sullen, resentful, bitter, impure, selfishly ambitious, divisive, argumentative, revengeful, factious, slanderous, bureaucratic, legalistic, traditionalistic, humanistic or spiritistic. Our Lord wanted to help people to lift their focus on things above rather than on things that are on the earth. (Col. 3:1-4)
5. Jesus did not allow Himself to be dragged into arguments over cultural or personality non-essentials. The Lord put His attention squarely on the essentials for helping people grow in all aspects in Christ. (Eph 4:15)