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