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“By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1John 2:6 ESV).
Saint Augustine once quipped whether walking like Christ might mean that his followers should try to stride across the surface of a stormy sea as he did. Is this what it means to follow Christ? Or is it a WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) approach to life? That can become problematic because Jesus would not have gone to college, started a career, gotten married, had children, retired from his job, moved to Florida, etc. However, Jesus would (and did) enter this sin-ridden world, become a human, live a life that perfectly fulfilled God’s just laws, be crucified on a cross for the sins of people from every tribe, tongue and nation, take the wrath of God for their sins, succumb to death, be buried and after three days be raised to life, defeating death, hell and the grave, and ascend to the right hand of the Father as the risen Lord and King!
Jesus would (and does) continue to make intercession for his people and will return one day to consummate all things and set up his eternal kingdom.
So what does it mean for us to walk as Jesus walked? I think it means what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, to take up our cross and follow him.
It means to obey Matthew 19:21 and be willing to give up everything to follow him.
It means opening up your home, or helping others who do, to an orphan in obedience to James 1:27. It means that you get out of your comfort zone to bring in another human being that didn’t come from your body, many whom have deep hurts that may cause disruption to your perfectly ordered universe. It means visiting those in prison so they can hear about Jesus. It means stooping down and touching the unclean that they might know the touch of Jesus. It means washing the feet of those who may turn their back on you.
It means loving those who may never love you in return and praying for those who would rather spit in your face as to look at you. It means forgiving the sins of those who have hurt you because you realize how bad your own sin is to have nailed Jesus to a cross.
It means pursuing holiness in everyday life. It means praying with the mindset that if God doesn’t move on your behalf your ship is sunk. It means longing for the purity of his people and the church. It means that Jesus is doesn’t just “live in your heart;” it means that he is your life; he is greater and he is enough.
Tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving, and Friday we will join the masses to accumulate more to be thankful for (do you see the irony?). Despite the brightness of the Christmas lights, it will be a dark place, with millions of people trying to buy happiness, either for themselves or for someone else. We are called to live in this world; how can we walk as Jesus in the midst of materialistic mayhem?
Jesus calls us to a different standard than the world expects. How this is worked out for your life I cannot say exactly, but I know the implications will change us all drastically if we would actually get serious about the Gospel.
Brian Owens is an associate pastor with youth and children emphasis at Farmdale Baptist Church. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.