Being like Jesus!?

Sometimes it is important to state what you are not saying, prior to making your actual point, and this certainly is one of those issues.  I would never say that we should not strive to be like Christ in our love, our ethics, and our general discourse in this world.  Moreover I would never say that we should not serve the marginalized, oppressed, captive, and impoverished in this world.  We are commanded by both Christ and Moses to do that exact thing!  So because Jesus did those things perfectly, we too should strive to be like Jesus right?  Yes, in those ways, however to say that trying to be like Jesus is a universally acceptable rule of thumb is not wise.

We are called to obey all that Christ commanded us to do, we read that in the great commission.  Jesus never commands us to live by His example, but instead to live by His commands.  He certainly is a great example of what obedience to his own commands looks like, nonetheless it is His words we obey not his example.  Why is this important? or is it important?  It is incredibly important.

If you say you are trying to be like Jesus then you are trying to weep for my sin, trying to be a man of sorrows, trying to be despised, trying to be misunderstood, trying to end up on a roman cross, trying to sweat as it were drops of blood, trying to be a sacrifice for other's sins, trying to do a number of things which He has done, but never commanded you to do!  Am I splitting hairs?  It may seem that way at first, but this is more critical than we think.  When we look at Jesus' life as exemplary then we quickly lose sight of the work that He has done FOR US that could never be accomplished by us.  We gloss over His divinity while focusing entirely on His humanity.  When you encounter someone who is in sin if you ask yourself "What would Jesus Do?" the response should be weep and fear because you are going to die for that sin.  Yet if you ask "What has Jesus commanded?" you will be equipped to properly deal with sin.

The focus of being like Christ is a noble focus when properly framed.  However it quickly becomes a paradigm for life that doesn't take into account the things He has done for you and this world neither you nor anybody else could ever do.

So where do you focus when it comes to moral standards, ethics, and so on.  Jesus summed up the law for us, Jesus gave us a number of commands, He did not leave us without instruction.  Focus on His instruction, and then with regard to those instructions, see him as the example of how to carry them out, and never allow your sight of Him as an example to overshadow the sight of him as your righteousness, propitiation, and redemption.