Not a Phony Imitation

A good exercise for Christians is to ask themselves, “If a non-Christian person spent a whole day with me, would the way I lived that day inspire him or her to want to have Jesus in their lives too?”

If every Christian was truly imitating Christ, there would probably be a lot more people wanting to know about Jesus.

Every day we can choose to be the kind of Christian who leads others to Christ and who inspires others to want to learn more about Jesus.

> If your Christianity won’t work where you are, it won’t work anywhere.
> Your theology is what you are when the talking stops and the action starts.
> It’s good to be a Christian and know it, but it’s better to be a Christian and show it.
> The spirit of Christianity is not to impose some kind of creed, but to share a Life.
> A Christian is one who makes it easier for other people to believe in God.

We shouldn’t become discouraged if we aren’t always perfectly imitating God. We will fall short and make mistakes. Plus, God doesn’t expect perfection. He simply expects a sincere desire to want to be more like Him. He also asks for our humility. It will often be humbling to be God’s face, and you may feel that it goes against your nature. But if you are earnest and ask for His help often, He will make it easier for you to take on His characteristics.

A popular song that made a big impression on me as a teenager seemed to be a prayer. I say “seemed” because the song didn’t mention God or prayer. It also didn’t sound like any religious music I’d ever heard. The lyrics were deceptively simple—big truths about character and success in life expressed humbly and winsomely. I wanted to be like that, I remember thinking. It was the best sermon I’d ever heard.

Let Me Be a Little Kinder
Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me;
Let me praise a little more.
Let me be a little meeker
With the brother that is weaker,
Think a little more of others
And a little less of me.
— Glen Campbell

If that was what religion was all about, I also remember thinking, it wasn’t so bad. It would be a few more years before I read from the Bible for the first time, but when I did I was pleasantly surprised to learn that was what true Christianity was all about—loving God and others. I was also pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to muster that love from within myself. It is a gift from God, freely available to anyone who asks for it. All it takes is a simple, sincere prayer. Like that song.

Are You a Good Christ?

 

I think it’s time we stop asking ourselves the question: “Am I a good Christian?” We live in a time when the term “Christian” has been so diluted that millions of immoral but nice people genuinely consider themselves “good Christians.” We have reduced the idea of a good Christian to someone who believes in Jesus, loves his or her family, and attends church regularly. Others will label you a good Christian even though your life has no semblance of likeness to the way Christ spent His days on earth. Perhaps we should start asking the question: “Am I a good Christ?” In other words, do I look anything like Jesus? This question never even entered my mind until a friend of mine made a passing comment to me one day.

Dan is a longtime friend of mine who described a trip to Tijuana, Mexico, with a pastor named Von. Dan didn’t speak of the awful living conditions of those who made their homes amidst the rubbish. He spoke of the compassion, sacrifice, and love that he witnessed in Von’s words and actions as he held these malnourished and unwashed children.

Then he made the statement that sent me reeling: “The day I spent with Von was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.”

Dan explained that the whole experience was so eerie because he kept thinking to himself: “If Jesus were still walking on earth in the flesh, this is what it would feel like to walk alongside of Him!”

After that discussion, I kept wondering if anyone had ever said that about me, “The day I spent with Francis was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.” The answer was an obvious “no.” Would any honest person say that about you? What bothered me was not that I hadn’t “arrived,” but that I wasn’t even heading in the right direction. I wasn’t striving to become the kind of person who could be mistaken for Jesus Christ.

Isn’t it ironic that a man can be known as a successful pastor and Christian even if his life doesn’t resemble Christ’s? “He that saith he abideth in [Jesus] ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6). When John made that statement, he wasn’t speaking about how to be a church leader or even how to be a “good” Christian. He merely stated that anyone who calls himself a Christian should live like Jesus did.

So how did Jesus live? You could make a list of character traits to compare yourself to, but it would be far more beneficial to simply read through one of the Gospels. After you get a bird’s-eye view of the life of Christ, do the same with your own. It’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of “success.” Biblically, however, success is when our lives parallel Christ’s.

May we make it our goal to someday have someone say of us: “The time I spent with ______ was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to walking with Jesus.”

As Christians, we often complain about how antagonistic people are toward Jesus. Personally, I’m not sure that they’re really rejecting Him. Maybe they just haven’t seen Him.

Francis Chan, Catalyst, May 2009

Prayer: Jesus, I want to thank You for the way You love me. I know I don’t deserve it, yet every day You are with me. Please help me to become more like You, so that when people are around me, they will get a chance to see You in me.

I don’t want to be the kind of Christian who makes it difficult for someone to come to know You. I want to be the kind of Christian who makes people want to believe in You. I know that there is no way I can do this on my own, so I am asking for Your help. I would love to become Your mirror to others so that when people look at me, they get a real good look at just how loving, caring, merciful, forgiving, patient, honest, and real You are.

Make me Your mirror to the world, I pray. Amen.

To me, Jesus is the Life I want to live, the Light I want to reflect, the Way to the Father, the Love I want to express, the Joy I want to share, the Peace I want to sow around me. Jesus is everything to me.

Mother Teresa (1910-1997)