Does Christ present an example of how we are to live? The answer is yes and no. On the “no” side there are many things He did that we will not and cannot do. We will not perform miracles; we will not live sinless lives; we will not commune with the Father has He did; we will not make atonement for sin; we will not raise ourselves from the dead. For these reasons we are reminded that Christ is different to us. Furthermore, He didn’t come primarily to teach us how to live but to reveal God to us and to save us from our sin.
On the “yes” side the apostle Paul said in 1 Cor 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Jesus lived the life we could not live obeying the will of His Father perfectly. In doing so He demonstrated true godliness. Paul therefore imitated what he saw in His Lord and he encouraged believers to reflect the Christlikeness they saw in him. In what ways then are we to follow the example of Christ? There are many, here are five:
We are to follow Christ in obedience. We cannot obey God perfectly, nevertheless as His people it should be our desire. How easily do we make excuses for sin rather than taking up our cross and following Him at all costs. The outlook of Jesus is to be our outlook, “not my will, but Yours, be done.”
We are to follow Christ in prayer. Christ put aside His divine attributes and relied upon the Spirit to strengthen Him and equip Him for the task of ministry. His reliance upon the Father and furthermore His devotion to the Father is evident in His prayer life. He rose early in order to pray. He dismissed the crowds in order to pray. Prayer was the air that He breathed.
We are to follow Christ in servitude. The Lord of glory did not come to be served but to serve. With the washing of feet He presented spiritual lessons concerning redemption, but also lessons concerning servitude – John 13:14-15, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”
We are to follow Christ in compassion. We are told on numerous occasions that He was moved with compassion. It means a deep yearning within. He made time for people, fellowshipped with them, healed them, fed them, purchased their forgiveness with His own blood – all because He cared for them. We won’t demonstrate compassion exactly as He did, but we must be compassionate.
We are to follow Christ in perseverance. Heb 12:2-3, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (3) For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” In suffering He was an example of courage and resolve. He did not shrink back from His mission. He did not water the message down. He was faithful to the end. The hour in which we live demands courage, perseverance, and the willingness to suffer for His sake.