For I have given you an example,
that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Now that our celebration of Christ's birth has passed, how are we to observe the rest of His life? In fact, how many of us view the remainder of his short time on this earth with the same reverence we give his Birth and Death? Shouldn't we be just as interested in knowing the details of those years? And if we count ourselves as His followers, how are we to live our lives?
As we approach a New Year, perhaps this is a good time to take a fresh look at our Christian lives, and to discern if we are following His example, as His words in the featured Scripture instruct us to do. To begin, Jesus gave us an example of how to live a life that is much different than the conventional way. His values were different than the common man's in His time. I then have to ask myself, "Are mine"? Or do my principles and behavior mimic those of society?
Jesus didn't value the things that the world esteemed ... in His day, it was large flocks of animals; positions of power and authority in the synagogues; wealth and material possessions. He lived a simple life, first as a carpenter's son; and then when He embarked upon His mission for His Father, He lived a humble life, relinquishing material comforts in favor of trusting God for provision. In truth, He did not love the things of this world.
Is it any different today? Wealth, power and self-gratification are still primary motivators of most people. If we are to follow His example, how many of us are willing to sacrifice the prestige of our careers; or the comfort of our material possessions? Would you be willing to forego a distinguished academic career in favor of telling others about the Kingdom of God? What about giving up your "me time", and the activities that you love -- those vacations, clubs and organizations that make you "feel good", and even that coveted position on the Church Board? If we love the things that this world says are important, more than we are devoted to spending time to bringing others to the Messiah, then we are not following His example.
As we contemplate how He lived His life, we must recognize that He was willing to be rejected by the world. That is a difficult example to follow -- especially since we all crave acceptance and love from others. I think those of us who are members of the Body of Christ need to be particularly vigilant about how we represent Him; about how we present the example that we are to follow. We must not become like the Pharisees who, while identifying with the common man, declared themselves experts on God's Word and His law. They took pride in their religiosity; they knew the Scriptures well, but in their attempt to declare the authority of the Word, they added to it with oral traditions.
While I often comment on the lack of Bible knowledge among today's Believers, I want to make sure that we are all on the same page. Yes, it is important to know what the Bible says and how God and Jesus instructed us to live our lives through their words. But there are those who will never hear our words; no matter how many Scriptures we can recite. So many more people will come to the Kingdom by how well we live those words! The world must SEE us modeling His example, and then the Word has real meaning. When they see us following His commandment to "love one another; as I have loved you ... By this all will know that you are My disciples...", then they will seek more knowledge of Him through the Word of the Bible.
There is so much more about how Jesus lived His life that we should be practicing and imitating. He healed the sick, cast out demons, and gave God the glory for all things in this life. Do you know that we have been given the power and the authority to do all that He did? While He was present on this earth He revealed to His followers the following truths: 1) He was preparing a place for us; that where He was going, we would go also. 2) That the Father was in Him; by believing in all Jesus did, we are seeing the works of the Father. 3) Of all the works that Jesus did, through the Father, we would be able to do even greater works in His name. 4) He would come to indwell us in the form of the Holy Spirit, who will teach us to remember all the things that Jesus commanded and taught.
These principles and Truths are our inheritance and legacy from the Prince of Peace. Do we recognize that? Do we follow His example? Or are we so awe-struck by His miraculous birth and sacrificial death, that we lose the significance of the rest of His life? Think how much more we can offer the world on His behalf! A life lived by following the example of Christ's entire life; one that is a full, vibrant, healing, bountiful, and separate life from the one lived by the world ... one that this very same world needs to see in each of us, every single day.