Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind!
So what does it mean to imitate him?
1 John 3:1-3 (WEB) says,
1) See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God! For this cause the world doesn’t know us, because it didn’t know him. 2) Beloved, now we are children of God, and it is not yet revealed what we will be. But we know that when he is revealed, we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is. 3) Everyone who has this hope set on him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
Jesus began his ministry with the simple call "follow me." He wants us to learn from him and become like him. I have been baffled by the present animosity that the non-Christian world has toward Jesus. Perhaps they are getting their picture of Jesus from the poor examples of us struggling Christians! Instead, they should read the historic account of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If they read about Jesus there, they will see that he is The Champion of love for all. He preaches against hypocrisy and vice. He is kind to the brokenhearted. He condemns no one! Why he is the epitome of valor, the grand gentleman, the hero of heroes! The great Christian hope is that one day our very natures will be transformed so that we will be like him. No longer will we struggle with envy, anger, and hypocrisy. We will be like Jesus effortlessly! Meanwhile, because this is our hope, we strive to purify ourselves to be like him now.
1 John 4:17-18 (WEB) says,
17) In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. 18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.
In fact the Bible says that if we are Christians, we are already like Jesus in this world. Even though we are terribly poor imitations of Christ, Jesus has given us the assignment to follow in his footsteps. We are like him because we have a purpose in this world to serve God and be like Jesus. Furthermore, if we are Christians we have the Holy Spirit working powerfully within us to accomplish the purposes of God. While we may be painfully aware of our inadequacies, Jesus is nonetheless marching on, working his will both in us and through us. Giving up is not an option! The work of the Holy Spirit will be effective in changing and transforming us. Though no one will ever be perfected in this life, progress will be made in learning to forgive, serve, and love others. So we submit to the Holy Spirit's work in our lives and we look forward to the end of sin and perfect Christ-likeness in glory.
Imitating Jesus is hard work because our birth nature is not like Jesus. Just as Jesus loved all mankind, we are to share his love with all mankind. Thankfully, the hard work of transformation is not ours alone, but instead it is God who changes us, and so we learn to keep in step with the Spirit. Imitate Jesus!