One of the factors which determine the way we live are the examples we have had in our lives. This is why parents are so influential in our lives. They give us an example (which is more influential than their teaching) to live by. If they are good examples, then we have a positive model to follow. If they are bad examples, then we are faced with overcoming the negative example they provided for us.
Just as parents influence the way we live by their example; God provides us with an example on how He expects us to live. In the passage above, the apostle Paul tells us that we are to follow God’s example. How do imitate God’s example? The example God wants us to follow is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus represents God perfectly, and his time on earth shows us how God would live if He was confined to a human body. Jesus is the example that we are to follow, in order to imitate God.
But how do we follow the example of Jesus?
There was only a small group of people who were able to witness the way Jesus lived day to day, and we are not part of that group. It is one thing to follow the example of our parents who raised us, but it is another thing to follow the example of a man who walked this earth 2,000 years ago.
There are two important actions that must be part of our lives if we are going to follow Jesus. In the absence of Jesus physically walking with us, we have to be aware of the tools he left behind that enable us to follow where he leads.
1. We must be students of the Bible. The apostle John wrote: I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life (1 John 5:13; NLT). Reading through 1 John you realize that John’s emphasis is to explain how Jesus lived. John is writing so that we might know how we are to live this new life, which is eternal life, made possible through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.
The entire Bible is useful in helping us understand how Jesus lived, and how we can follow his example. The Old Testament is full of stories of people of faith, and how they lived their lives. It also contains God’s Law, God’s guidance for His people on how they were to live.
The Gospels are the record of how Jesus lived, the book of Acts is a record of how Jesus’ first followers lived, and the rest of the New Testament explains how we can make Jesus’ example the model for our lives.
2. We must observe the lives of mature Christians. The apostle Paul wrote; And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s (1 Corinthians 11:1; NLT). Paul had experience in following the example of Jesus, and thus he became a living example of what it means to follow Jesus. While his readers were not be able to see Jesus, they could see Paul and how he lived.
From reading biographies of men and women of faith, to spending time with mature Followers of Christ, we are able to see how Jesus would respond to the challenges that we face everyday. These people help flesh out the words of Jesus, and allow us to understand how we should live our lives.
How we live our lives is influenced greatly by the examples we have been able to observe. God wants us to follow His example that He has given us in Jesus. It is when we start to follow Jesus that we are able to see how life is really meant to be lived. That is when we become imitators of God.
Questions to consider:
- Who has influenced your life?
- How has Jesus influenced the way you live?
- What kind of example are you providing for other people?