“Following Jesus’ footsteps” is a common Christian buzzword that doesn’t always get a lot of explanation. We tend to assume that others understand what it means to live like Jesus. But the truth requires a little more detail. For instance, does living like Jesus mean Christians should be homeless?
Living like Jesus is a full lifestyle change. However, the Holy Spirit gives believers the ability to understand what Jesus asks of us and how to carry it out. Living like Jesus doesn’t mean following a strict set of guidelines, but demonstrating a changed behavior and mindset obvious to others.
Demonstrate Righteousness and Service to Others
According to James, the definition of pure and undefiled religion is to care for widows and orphans and keep yourself unpolluted by the world. We see Jesus living out this verse in His love for children, His compassion and regard for widows, and in His refusal of the devil’s temptations
What does this look like for a Christian today? Keeping yourself clean from the world could take many forms depending on your particular circumstances and struggles. For some, it might mean breaking an addiction to substance abuse, explicit online content, or other temptations. Meanwhile, demonstrating service to others could mean helping at a food pantry, going grocery shopping for a needy family, donating to a worthy cause, volunteering your time for a crisis hotline, or more. Demonstrating a true zeal for holiness and desire to help others is the best way to live like Jesus.
Empathize with Others
Romans tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. For an example of this in Jesus’ life, look no further than the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Jesus mourned with Lazarus’ sisters even though He knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead.
This simple action and verse demonstrate a few important things. First of all, it shows there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mourning or being sad. Jesus Himself wept for a friend He knew was about to come back to life! Second, it shows the importance of showing empathy for others. Jesus knew that human emotions were and still are powerful, and the best thing to do is show the other person that you understand. Offer a shoulder to cry on or, on a happy occasion, a friend to celebrate with.
Pro Tip: Remember that emotions in and of themselves are God-given and not sinful. Demonstrating a strong emotional reaction or empathizing with a friend who does is healthy, normal behavior for anyone, Christians included.
Alone Time with God
“Quiet time” is generally another Christian buzzword, but this one has some worth to it. The Gospels record multiple instances of Jesus withdrawing from the public eye to pray. As important as it was to spend time with others, it mattered just as much to spend time along with God, away from all the distractions. Modern Christianity tries to duplicate this with devotional books, Bible reading structures, or other substitutes. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, they miss the point. Quiet prayer is just that. Don’t let a goal to read the Bible in a year or listen to a bunch of sermons get in the way of just spending time with God.
Relationships with Non-Believers
This is possibly the biggest hurdle for most modern Christians. We often forget that even as Jesus instructed His followers to strive for holiness, He also called and spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes, and others looked down upon by the religion of the time. In fact, His harshest recorded words weren’t directed at the “sinners” everyone hated, but at the hypocritical religious leaders who offered them no mercy! While Jesus did call sinful people to repentance and salvation, He still demonstrated love to them and spent time with them.
It’s important to remember that Jesus did not condone their sinful choices or agree with everything they said, both common understandings of what it means to care about someone. It’s also worth noting He didn’t spend all His time with them preaching or reading from the Bible. He demonstrated love for them because of their great need for Him, their worth as His creations, and their ultimate repentance. For you, this may look like inviting your unsaved friends out to dinner, providing a listening ear, and just being a friend. Live like Jesus in front of them, and God will work in their hearts to be receptive to Jesus.
The saying “imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” holds true for Jesus! By trying to live like Jesus, you’re demonstrating love for Him and showing that you consider His life and habits perfect enough to mimic for yourself.
Want to learn more about truly living like Jesus? Connect with us to see how other Christians apply these principles in their own lives.