The first two verses in this passage sound awesome, don’t they!? At first glance, if you are like me, you’re inspired and moved to action. “Yes! I will imitate Jesus! That’s the world needs, and I can do it.” Where God stopped me in my tracks when I wanted to write in that vein was the end of verse 2: “(He) offered himself as a sacrifice for us”… It’s not the nice bumper sticker anymore when you consider what you are called to imitate.
Hear what I am saying and not what I am not saying: I don’t think all of us will die for our faith (though hopefully we all die with our faith). But the example that we are told to imitate in this passage is not the pseudo-committed, pretentious Christianity that is rampant today. We are called to real sacrifice because of the real example of our sacrificial Savior. I saw this meme a while back via the popular hashtag #ThingsJesusNeverSaid, and it struck my heart about what I often see my faith as:
Look, I know you get this already, but that meme hit at the heart of our comfortable, low-devotion “faith”. Real Christianity isn’t about just GOING to church, it’s about BEING the church. It’s about imitating Christ on a very sacrificial level.
We get our focus blurry when the end-all is attending a service on the weekend. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “I am Christian because I gave up two hours of my time at a worship service.” Actually, it says something much bolder (GREAT COMMANDMENT & COMMISSION).
If you’ve experienced the love of God through the cross of Jesus, it affects everything about you. There is no stone of your life unturned when Jesus is your King. And when you consider all He has done for you, the call to imitate Him and live for Him doesn’t really seem like an option anymore. It’s the least you could do.
How can you imitate Him today? Serve a neighbor. Call and encourage a friend. Give generously to missions. Find a place to serve the down-and-out. Tell someone the timeless message of the Gospel. And keep this in the forefront of your day: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” (Ephesians 5:8 ESV).
By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor