When I was a kid, I loved all sports and depending upon what sport I was into, I always had a hero to emulate. At 7-8 years old I loved football and I wanted to be Steve Largent the receiver for the Seahawks, #80. I had his jersey and I would put black paint under my eyes and run around in the back yard with my football replaying all of the plays from the previous Sunday’s game. A while later my loyalties switched to basketball. The premier basketball player at that time was Michael Jordan, #23. I wanted to be like Michael Jordan. I had Michael Jordan posters all over my room. I would play basketball at the playground working on my double pump lay-up with my tongue flapping around like a dog with his head out of the car window.
It was ridiculous to think I could ever be like Michael Jordan. He’s 6’6” and a basketball prodigy. My genetic code capped my height at 6’0” on a good day with thick soled hiking boots. As a Christian, I’m faced with an equally ridiculous notion. I’m commanded to be like Jesus Christ.
“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).
Jesus is the Son of God. He lived a sinless life, performed miracles, and started a movement that is two billion strong after 2,000 years. He’s kind of a big deal. How am I supposed to begin living my life as he did? It seems like a rather tall task. It’s one thing to try to be like Michael Jordan, or get your hair done like Jennifer Aniston, but to be like Jesus Christ? Let’s think about what Jesus did for a moment… Jesus walked on water; I don’t even swim well (I only doggy paddle). Jesus fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and some fish; I can’t even get my nine year old to eat vegetables. In stunning climax Jesus dies and is raised back to life again three days later; I have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Do you see the struggle in all of this? There is this disparity between who I am today and who I want to be …like Jesus.
And yet, being like Jesus is at the center of what it means to be a Christian. The earliest followers of Jesus were called disciples. This means more than a student, or a learner, a disciple was a follower who sought to emulate the master. Just a short time after Jesus had risen from the dead, disciples of Jesus were numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Because of their devotion to the teachings of Jesus Christ, people started referring to them as Christians, which literally means “little Christ.” The goal for these early believers was to be like Christ and two thousand years later the goal for every Christian is to be like Christ. Here’s the good news, the person that I am today is a remarkable improvement upon the person I was five years ago. I bet the same is true of you. For a long time, I questioned whether or not I was making any progress. I felt like a complete failure, unworthy of God’s grace. I would work at it and work at it trying to be all that I could be in Christ. My life verse was Paul’s recommendation that I should beat my body and make it my slave. And so, I would go on a fast, I would set up a regiment of getting up early in the morning to pray, daily Bible reading and memorization of scripture. Don’t get me wrong, all of these were good things, but just when I felt myself reaching the point of breakthrough, instead, I would breakdown. Then I read these words from Jesus and something shifted.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
It sounds nice, but how do we do this? I think the secret is found in Jesus’ invitation to learn from him. Not only can we learn from reading about his life, but he’s given us his Holy Spirit as a teacher. In those moments you feel overwhelmed, not knowing how to handle what you are going through, lean in. Learn from Jesus. For the next several weeks at Westside Church, we are going to be doing just that – learning from Jesus. I invite you to join us on a Sunday, or listen online as we begin this weekend October 23rd a sermon series we are calling “Carbon Copy”.