We are called to be imitators of Jesus; we are not called to stand in His place.
We were made in the image of God, and we are designed to reflect God’s character. If we have been redeemed, we have God’s Spirit within us, using our hands, our feet, and our mouths to accomplish His will. The Church is the body of Christ, the visible manifestation on the earth of the redeeming work of Christ. However, if we are “the only Jesus they’ll ever know,” then something is terribly wrong.
Jesus says, “Follow Me.” What are some reasons for following someone, aside from obedience to a command? Why obey that command? I see several examples of following, with different reasons for each. Watch a mother duck, with all her little ducklings trailing along behind her. They follow her out of need, because without her they would die. In the same sense, our needs will ultimately only be met if we follow Jesus. (While strong motivation, no doubt, is salvation selfish motivation for following Jesus– “fire insurance” as some call it?) Another example: a faithful dog, following his master everywhere he goes. True, the master provides for the dog’s needs, but the dog could very likely survive on its own by following its instincts. The dog want to be with the master, even when the dog isn’t in need of something. I think this exhibits love, the best reason for following Jesus. Jesus does so many things for us; in return, we should tag along like a grateful, devoted dog (or lamb). Another reason why people follow is awe. Look at any superstar, and you will see crowds of people following that person. People follow the Pope in hopes of touching such a great man, to hear what such a powerful man has to say. How much more should we follow the God of the Universe! A follower of Jesus follows for all of these reasons– simply because HE IS GOD, because He meets our needs, and–the one which means the most to Him–we love Him.
I know that my spiritual life needs work, so what should I do? God calls me to be holy; therefore, I must obey God and be holy. And how do I achieve holiness? Holiness requires an absence of sin. My goal is now to eradicate sin from my life. The problem, however, is that I fail to eradicate sin from my life. This is discouraging because no matter what I do or how hard I try, I continue to sin. My discouragement and sense of failure leads to a deterioration of my standards. “Since I can’t keep from sinning, is it really all that bad if I sin a little more?” The selfish desires within me don’t want to give up the sin, but my conscience says I should. So when I’m feeling spiritual, I convince myself that the sin is truly unholy and my conscience is right. After doing this I am committed to doing away with the sin. But when I stumble and commit the sin again, it becomes increasingly harder to keep convincing myself that I must stop sinning. How am I to improve my spiritual life when I can’t seem to make good progress towards becoming holy. When I focus on trying to stop sinning, I only encounter failure. I look again at God’s command: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Ah! God wants me to be like Him. And since God came to earth as a man, I have a good model to follow. The answer then is to fall in love with Jesus. Only then, by following the Holy One, am I truly on the road to holiness.