“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV
In our society, being unique, independent, and a standout in character are admired traits. Being an imitator of character is seen as boring, uncreative, and of not much value or worth. The call to follow Jesus is a complete reverse of what the world expects us to do: be imitators of Jesus and His disciples. When we ask Jesus to be our Lord, we begin a step of unlearning all our worldly and selfish ways and start becoming like Jesus in His character. It is a lifetime project, and we will not complete the task of completely being like Jesus on this side of eternity. Nevertheless, Jesus is calling us to love, serve, and become all things like Him in character. Our goal is to be a mini-Jesus walking and living at this place, time and age. Imagine if all Christians in the world would have the character-copy of Jesus. This is our call in a Christian community – it is like a school of imitators of Jesus, that through our life, actions and relationships, others would see Jesus in us.
So how do we become more and more like Jesus?
- To act like Jesus, we need to think like Jesus. Many years ago, the acronym WWJD [What would Jesus do?] became famous because that is the right attitude we all should have. Given this situation, especially during trying and hard times, how would have Jesus responded? Then, go and do likewise.
- To respond to others like Jesus, we need to love like Him. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35 ESV) This is how difficult to be like Jesus – He died for us out of His deep love for all of us. That is how we should love one another as well. The real test of loving as Jesus did is loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable, and serving without counting the cost.
- Have a living model of Christianity. Whom are you trying to imitate? Maybe you do not have one example but have a few in different areas of their lives. Learn from the lives of the saints and how they offered themselves to God and imitated Jesus in their circumstances.
- Aim to achieve something great for God little by little, day by day. A great sculpture or painting is not finished overnight, but it takes hours and hours of hard work. Saints do not become saints in a flash; many struggle their whole lives as we do, yet they overcome. A little sacrifice here, a little forbearance there, a greater understanding somewhere, and so on – over a while, we would become a lot more like Jesus.
- Treat trials and difficulties as opportunities to imitate Jesus. See James 1:2-4. Trials and challenges are “tests” whether we will act like Jesus or not. Aim to pass the test.
- Yield to the Holy Spirit, not to the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV) Choose to do the loving thing. Loving others is easy to say but hard to do. Your ability to love is limited; seek God’s love, patience, and forgiveness when yours ran out. See how loving and forgiving God is to you.
Other Scripture passages:
- But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV)
- Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
- Other references: John 13:12-15; John 13:34; Ephesians 5:1; Colossians 3: 12-13; Philippians 3:17; and 1 Peter 2:21.
For personal reflection or group sharing
- Apart from Jesus, who are you trying to imitate in character?
- What traits do you need to become a better imitator of Jesus?
Top image of Christians together with uplifted crosses praising Jesus Christ, from bigstock.com, © by Rawpixel.com, stock photo ID: 67321867
Tom Caballes is a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with seven branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom and his wife Mhel and their two daughters [with his son-in-law and grand-daughter] live in Wellington, New Zealand.