Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Following the Right Example

The way we live our lives is very much determined by the examples we have had in life. This is why parents are so influential parts of our lives. They give us an example, which is so much more influential than their teaching, to live by. If they are good examples then we have a positive model to follow, but if they are bad examples then we are faced with overcoming the negative model they have provided for us.

Just as parents provide us with an example on how we are to live life, so does God provide us with an example for how He expects us to live. The apostle Paul wrote:
Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to him. (Ephesians 5:1-2, NLT)

The Apostle tells us that we are to follow God’s example, and that example is personified in Jesus Christ. Jesus represents God perfectly and He shows us how God would live if He was confined to a body. This is the example that we are to follow.

But how do we follow the example of Jesus? There is only a small group of people that were able to witness the way Jesus lived His daily life, but 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. How do we do it?

There are two important actions that we 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 away of the tools He has left behind so we can follow where He leads.

The first action that we must do is that 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 emphasis is to explain how Jesus lived. John is writing so that we might know how we live this new life, this eternal life, that we have received from Jesus because of His death and resurrection.

The entire Bible is useful for 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 that He wanted His people to live by. The Gospels are the record of how Jesus lived, the book of Acts is a record of how His first followers lived, and the rest of the New Testament explains how we can make Jesus’ example the model for our lives.

The second action is observing the lives of mature Christians. That is why 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 live example of what it means to follow Jesus. While his readers may 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 Christ Followers 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 we can begin to understand how we should live our lives.

How we live our lives is influenced greatly by the examples of living that we have had. God wants us to follow His example as seen in His Son Jesus. It is when we start to follow Jesus that we begin to see how life is really meant to be lived.

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