“The imitation of Christ does not mean to live a life like Christ, but to live your life as authentically as Christ lived his…” (Henri Nouwen)
Are we really called to do all the things that Christ did in His life? Speak, heal, kick out demons, lead, rebel, sacrifice, love, and more? Yes, Jesus very clearly tells us we will do even more than he did (John 14:12-14)… but here is where we get stuck: How do we live this way? How do we actually do these things in our daily life?
Photo by Felipe Correia on Unsplash
One thing that may be helpful is to get clear on this: that our behavior is not the deepest part of who we are. Jesus’ behaviors were not the deepest part of who He is. This is the genius of Henri’s statement at the top of this page – he takes the emphasis off of trying to imitate the behaviors of Jesus (although is not altogether a bad thing) and puts it on trying to imitate WHO Jesus is. When we are learning to become an authentic person, authentic behaviors naturally follow.
When faced with decisions in our daily live we usually ask: “What should I do in this moment?” I often tell coaching clients to ask instead: “What kind of person do I want to be in this moment?” This question connects us and reminds us of who we are and Whose we are while also placing us squarely in the context from which we can make choices out of. From the deep foundation of who we are we can navigate our day-to-day lives with confident purpose.
WHO we are informs WHAT we do. Jesus is after WHO we are. Are you willing to let Him into those deeper waters of your life?
Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash
Dallas Willard describes a young boy who wants to become a great sports athlete. The boy watches hours of a star football quarterback hike the ball, hand it off, throw it downfield etc. Most of us had dreams of becoming a star at something and many of us tried to emulate those we looked up to. We know all too well that, for most of us, we never actually became the star. Why not? Because watching and repeating actions of a star athlete is not enough. You would have to live the life that the athlete lived. You would have to put in thousands of hours of practice, sacrifice other things, win some and lose many games, work out, eat healthy and, I am sure, many other things. Most people are not willing to do all this. It is the LIFE that needs to be practiced much more than the behaviors. It is the same as we are invited to emulate Jesus.