It’s not unusual to find a dedicated young athlete watching hours of film on their favorite athlete, maybe Michael Jordan. The youngster will study Jordan’s every move, rewinding and pausing the video to absorb every aspect. After a long film session, the youngster will head outside to practice his hero’s best moves on the court. Slowly, but surely, this starry-eyed kid will start to play more and more like Michael Jordan. As Christians, who are we studying hard to become?
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) If called by God, we have it in our DNA to be transformed into the hero of all heroes, Jesus Christ; this is why we have a conscious and moral compass, etc. Yet, why do we so often rebel against this innate calling? The apostle Paul warns, “See that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) This world offers many philosophies and empty promises, encouraging us to emulate destructive, pleasure-filled lives. Even the young athlete knows not to waste time studying a terrible basketball player. As John says, “Beloved, do not imitate evil, but imitate good.” (3 John 1:11)
Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) Do we follow Jesus closely, like the young athlete follows his sports hero? Or do we follow him from a distance, as Peter did on the night of Jesus’ arrest? “Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.” (Luke 22:54) As Peter kept this distance from his Lord, he committed the biggest mistake of his life and denied Jesus three times in one night. Looking back, how closely were we following Jesus when we made our worst mistakes?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” (Romans 12:12) This world works daily to morph us into the most comfortable, well-entertained, over-fed people who feel no urgent need for a Savior. Are we responding by renewing our mind in God’s word each day so we’ll stay on track to achieve our highest calling of becoming like Christ? Take the time to study Jesus and watch your walk become more like his walk. “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6)