Imitate Jesus

, by Christopher D. Hudson

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 

The apostle Paul boldly encouraged believers to imitate him because he was imitating Christ. He said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

According to Scripture, imitating Jesus is the ultimate aim of everyone who believes in him. In its simplest form, imitating Jesus is a three-step process.

1. Study the original.
It’s been said that U.S. Treasury agents learn to spot counterfeit money by carefully studying the real thing. Likewise, the more closely you study Jesus—his words, his priorities, his boldness, his commitment, his love, his interaction with hurting and broken people—the easier it will be for you to identify areas in your life where you can become more like him.

2. Try and try again.
Admittedly, Jesus set the bar impossibly high. He lived a sinless life, after all. Decidedly imperfect people trying to imitate a perfect Savior might seem like an exercise in futility. But it need not be.

The apostle Paul was an accomplice to the murder of Stephen, the first known Christian martyr. In Paul’s letters, he freely shares his struggle with sinful habits—a struggle he occasionally lost. Paul was the first to admit his imperfection. Yet he set himself up as an example to follow.

Paul understood that imitating Jesus is an ongoing pursuit. When you stumble, you confess your failure, learn from it, and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t disqualify yourself as an imitator of Jesus. Don’t become paralyzed by the enormity of the task.

Instead, draw wisdom from your failures. Lean heavily on God’s forgiveness and grace. Resolve to try again and again—with each decision you make, each interaction you have, and every thought you entertain. Make it your goal to live in a way that helps others see Jesus.

3. Follow Paul’s lead.
After you’ve spent time studying Jesus’ example, gained experience as a follower of Christ, learned hard lessons about the ups and downs of imitating Jesus, and established yourself as a mature Christian, you can make the same offer that Paul made in 1 Corinthians11:1. You can offer yourself as a role model to young Christians looking for direction. 

This blog post has been adapted from Walking with Jesus, a special-edition magazine that is available wherever magazines are sold.


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The Magnitude of Jesus' Death

, by Christopher D. Hudson

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. . . . When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 

Never before or since has so much been accomplished in a six-hour span. According to Mark’s Gospel (15:25, 34), Jesus’ ordeal on the cross lasted an agonizing 360 minutes.

For six hours, history and eternity hung in the balance. The fate of humanity rested on the bloodied and broken shoulders of the “king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29), as Jesus was mockingly (yet presciently) labeled by his executors. As the final minutes of his life ticked away, Jesus fulfilled his destiny.

Of every human who ever drew breath on the planet, Jesus is the only One who did not deserve the fate that met him. He alone did not deserve to die. Jesus was innocent of wrongdoing; he was righteous in God’s eyes, making him the only One who could pay the price for humanity’s sin. Only a perfect sacrifice would do.

For six hours, Jesus carried the weight of humanity’s sin—past, present, and future. The apostle Paul taught that Jesus effectively became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). According to Christian theologians, Jesus bore the punishment we deserved in order to rescue humanity from the consequences of sin.

The agony Jesus experienced defies description. The physical effects of crucifixion—wrists and feet impaled by spikes, bones shattered, and organs traumatized— are well documented. Beyond the physical pain, though, Jesus experienced unprecedented emotional and spiritual agony. In the midst of his suffering, he felt utterly abandoned—by most of his followers and by God himself. Jesus experienced a sense of aloneness that went to his very core.

During that six-hour span, Jesus overturned sin and death. He righted every wrong since the beginning of history. He bridged the gulf between God and his creation. He blazed a path to eternal life for everyone who follows him.
This blog post has been adapted from the special-edition magazine Walking with Jesus, which is now available in stores wherever magazines are sold.


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Identify Your Personal Struggles

, by Christopher D. Hudson

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

The Bible seems to delight in defying conventional wisdom. Case in point: the notion that weaknesses and personal struggles should be downplayed and hidden whenever possible. Better to present a tough facade than to risk vulnerability, the reasoning goes.

In contrast, the Bible suggests there is great benefit to identifying your weaknesses and coming clean about your struggles. As the apostle Paul noted in his second letter to the church in Corinth, Jesus’ power is most clearly evident where human beings are at their weakest:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

By working through your weaknesses, Jesus leaves no doubt as to who’s ultimately responsible for the triumphs in your life that come in many different forms:

• Cleared hurdles
• Improved relationships
• Solved problems
• Transformed attitudes
• Renewed spirit
• Sudden strength
• Changed life

Here are four steps you can take to identify your personal struggles and clear the way for Jesus to transform your life.

1. Take a long look inside.
Examine your thoughts, attitudes, and actions by answering some tough questions. Do you have habits you try to hide from others? Do you wrestle with doubt? Do you struggle with certain temptations over and over again? Do you ever put up a brave front when you feel anything but brave?

2. Invite God’s input.
Ask God to reveal the blind spots in your life—areas where you may be unaware of your weaknesses. Let God’s Holy Spirit work through your conscience to make you aware of things that are beyond your ability to fix or change on your own.

3. Identify your enablers.
An enabler is anything that makes it easier for you to
• give in to temptation;
• indulge in a destructive behavior;
• ignore a glaring weakness in your life.

A spouse or friend who looks the other way when you overindulge is an enabler. A friend who downplays the seriousness of your troubling behavior is an enabler. A jam-packed schedule that leaves little time for spiritual reflection is an enabler. A routine that exposes you to overpowering temptations is an enabler. In order to accurately assess your personal struggles, you have to recognize your enablers.

4. Involve caring loved ones.
Don’t keep your personal struggles private. Open up to a select group—a cheering section or a support team of sorts. Make yourself accountable to trusted friends and loved ones who know you well and who have a vested interest in your spiritual wellness.

This blog post has been adapted from the special-edition magazine Walking with Jesus, which is now available wherever magazines are sold.


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