Imitating the Son of God
My oldest son, Memphis, is not a mystery to me at all. I know what he is thinking at all times. I can look at his face and predict what kind of trouble he is about to get in. I even know his motivations for the dumb things he does.
How is that possible you might ask? Because Memphis is his father’s son. He is just like me in so many ways. Even though he is his own person, he has an uncomfortable number of my character traits, both positive and negative. So his behavior and thought processes are predictable for me because I remember doing and thinking the same things when I was a kid.
Jesus is also like his Father. In fact, he even says he only does what he sees his father doing. But being one of the three distinct persons in the Godhead, there are certain parts of God’s character that Jesus distinctly reveals to us. I want to explore that today.
The imitation of Jesus is the most well-known and most frequently attempted of the four imitations that I will be addressing this month. From WWJD bracelets to the term Christ-like, it is a common theme in modern Christianity. But if we are honest, the actual meaning can be pretty vague.
What does it mean to imitate the Son of God? Is it kindness? Welcoming children? Or turning over tables and chasing people with whips?!
In this post, I want to draw out a few of Jesus’ more defining characteristics and give some insights as to how we can all strive to imitate the son of God in our daily behaviors intentionally.
Jesus is an Establisher
The son of God was an immensely controversial character during his short ministry on this earth. Not because he was teaching people to love one another or devote themselves to God. What got Jesus in trouble was that he was establishing a kingdom that flew in the face of the long-standing Jewish and Gentile systems.
His Father had given Him the task of establishing the Kingdom of God (ekklesia) on earth. So during the three years of his active ministry, he laid a foundation, re-defined truth on God’s terms, not man’s. He cast vision and helped everyone to understand that they could be a part of His Kingdom, but they had to abandon their old allegiances and follow Him.
Jesus was fearless, focused, and driven as he fulfilled the calling of God on his life. He established the Kingdom of God among a small group of Jewish men and women. The seeds that Jesus planted soon sprouted and gave us the church.
The Church of Jesus Christ bore fruit and extend into Gentile nations bringing with it the same teaching s and principles that Jesus had established in their midst. But before Jesus ascended to the right hand of His father, He passed on His establishing ministry to His disciples. That includes you and me. Are you carrying on the work He began? Do you exercise the same passion and drive as Jesus?
Jesus is a Doer
The Son of God lived out a practical theology. He didn’t merely teach high minded ideas about a life wholly devoted to God; He gave His life.
It wasn’t enough to tell His disciples to love their enemies; He forgave the very ones that abused and crucified Him.
Jesus lived out His faith with bold actions that made Him stand out from all of the religious teachers and experts of the law.
Jesus eased suffering; He healed, He reached out a hand to the rejected and hated ones. There was always a wake of worshipers following behind Jesus, some whose first sight was the face of the Messiah, others who carried their mat with them as a reminder of their Redeemers healing love. Everyone who met Jesus found that He was not what they expected. Every word that passed His lips was full of divine wisdom, and he never wasted an opportunity to bring glory to His Father.
The followers of Jesus today have a different approach in most cases. We prefer to pontificate and preach rather than heal and restore. Most Christians are hearers or talkers, not doers. The closest some Christians get to DOING is reposting some pseudo-Christian propaganda on Facebook. That is a far cry for the example of Christ.
For us to imitate Christ, we must treat everyone as an image-bearer of God, reaching out our hand to the hurting instead of lobbying the powerful to do something in our stead. Our actions should start reflecting the radical behavior of our Savior, and our hearts should swell with love and compassion for the lost. Our anger should bubble over at the sexual and emotional abuse happening within our churches, and we should flip over the tables and raise hell rather than sweep things under the rug. Jesus would NEVER ignore the victims to protect the reputations of wicked men. He would act. It’s time the church sees more doers, like Jesus.
Jesus was a mentor
The Son of God did not come only to preach about the Kingdom of God to the nation of Israel. They were already entrenched with their cultural interpretation of the Jewish faith. Instead, Jesus planted the seeds of the Kingdom into the hearts of the men and women who followed Him. He nurtured the good soil in their hearts, preparing it for the right moment when all of His teachings would blossom into new life.
Mentorship was the foundation for everything that Jesus built upon. It enabled his disciples to carry on with his work after he ascended into heaven. Jesus was adept at giving general teaching to the multitudes and then gathering His closest disciples to take it all one step deeper. But why did he do that?
First, so they would understand. But also, so that they could eventually teach others. Jesus knew that what he was explaining to Peter and John, would eventually make its way to Barnabas, who would pass it on to Paul, who in turn would instruct Timothy, Titus, and Silas. That was Jesus’ end game, the expansion of His Kingdom into the farthest reaches of the earth. This plan had no physical or time boundaries.
Christian mentorship is absent in most churches today. We have replaced mentorship with watered-down programs and denominational indoctrination. If you want to imitate Jesus, one of the best things you can do is devote yourself to mentor a young believer. Invest in someone by giving of your time. Pass on the things that you have learned from the Lord. Teach them how to study God’s word, share their faith, or minister to the needy. Who knows they may pass it on to someone someday too, and the fruit of your labors could carry on for many generations.