The remarkable life of Jesus was brought home to me when I read these words,
“The life of Jesus was so unique, unpredictable, illogical and inconsistent that it would have been impossible for someone to make it up. It had to be true.”
And yet Jesus’ calling to us is that we are to learn to live like Him. He said to His disciples, “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” John 20:21 As I grew to understand this calling, the words of a Salvation Army song took on a deeper meaning for me :
“To be like Jesus, this hope possesses me,
In every thought and deed, this is my aim, my creed.
To be like Jesus, this hope possesses me.
His Spirit helping me, like Him I’ll be.”
Words: John Gowans Music: John Larssen
My life’s journey of growing to be like Jesus was a gradual one, but there came a time where I experienced a remarkable breakthrough after reading a book called Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. My life was stirred when I gained fresh insight from this book into a passage in John’s gospel that detailed an unusual event in the life of Jesus. For me, it was a defining moment.
Jesus had healed a man who had been disabled for 38 years. He was unable to walk. I suspect that this may not have been the first time that Jesus saw this man. But on this occasion Jesus was prompted to approach the man and heal him. Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8) And we read, “At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” (v 9)
And then follows an interesting observation, “The day on which this took place was a Sabbath.” (v9)
This meant that Jesus had broken one of the Jewish laws by healing this man on the sabbath and “the Jews persecuted Him.” (v16) Then Jesus makes this amazing response, “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too, am working.” (v 17) Jesus now suggested that this work of healing was initiated by His Father God and “for this reason they tried all the harder to kill Him.” (v 18)
He continues, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do NOTHING by Himself; He can do ONLY what He sees His Father doing; because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (v19)
“For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, to your amazement He shows Him even greater things than these.” (v 20)
Here was Jesus explaining how we too can live like Him in the world in which we live today. Jesus came to model a life for us to live. And through the gospel of John He keeps coming back to this lesson :-
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me.” (6:38)
“I do nothing of my own, but speak just what the Father taught me.” (8:28)
Jesus lived His life in intimacy with His Father and followed the prompts of the Holy Spirit that filled Him when He was baptised. He came to model this life for you and me; that is why He said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you.”
I remember a pastor in a country town sharing with me on one occasion that his church was dying and did I have any words of hope to pass on to him. So I shared with him Jesus’ words in John chapter 5 and told him that God the Father was at work right now in his town. I gave him a goal of sharing in his church service every Sunday where he had seen the Father at work in the previous week and then to email his findings to me. I prayed that he would follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit day by day and from the next Sunday he started reporting back to his church three situations where the Father had been at work that week. It wasn’t long before church members joined in the sharing time as well, and a new spirit of hope began to rise up in the church. The Father was still at work in this country town and this church came alive to the fresh prompts of the Holy Spirit.
I have made it a habit every day to pray that I might be sensitive to the prompts of the Holy Spirit so that I might be aware of how the Father is at work in the world in which I live. This has resulted in me experiencing divine appointments with people whom I had never met before, whose hearts were open to the good news of Jesus Christ.
One day I was walking through a park in my city and I felt the prompt of the Holy Spirit to go and sit with a man on the other side of the park. Nervously I approached him and asked if I could join him. As we chatted, I learnt that he was homeless and unemployed and had just arrived in my hometown in Australia after hearing a voice telling him to travel to Adelaide, Australia from where he was living in Ireland. Things hadn’t worked out for him and he was quite discouraged. I shared a booklet with him about Jesus and asked if we could meet in the park a few days later. When we met again, I had the privilege of praying with him to trust Jesus Christ as his saviour. Now, a few years later, he is happily married and with good employment and finding fulfillment in his newfound life with his saviour Jesus Christ.
I was learning to live like Jesus Christ who said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself, He can do only what He sees His Father doing; because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does. Yes, to your amazement He shows Him even greater things than these.”
I have come to believe that my Father is at work in my neighbourhood. Consequently I regularly prayer walk my neighbourhood asking the Father to show me where He is at work and then to follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit that lead me to talk to people along the way.
I have developed the following five step model to help me live like Jesus. I hope it might be helpful for you. It is my A E I O U model.
- A – AWARENESS
Jesus lived with an awareness that His Father was always at work and so should we. I remember in earlier years I was taught to “Practise the presence of God.”
One day a pastor asked me to join him for a coffee and he started the conversation by saying, “I am about to resign from my church unless you can otherwise convince me.” He then explained how he was under pressure to submit to his Church Board his goals for the following year. His problem was that he couldn’t think of any; he had run out of ideas.
My answer to him was, “Tell them you don’t have any goals. But tell them something of even greater importance.” I drew his attention to Jesus’ words in John chapter 5 and then said, “Tell them that the Father is always at His work to this very day, and we can only do what we see the Father doing.”
Suddenly the pastor was listening as I explained that the Christian life is a relationship where we develop an intimacy with our Father God and in the process He reveals to us what He is doing and invites us to join Him. And I added that He will know it is the Father because He gives us God sized things to do that we can only achieve in partnership with Him.
Following our meeting, I received a message from the Church Board members asking if I would join with them for a half day of prayer where I would share the same teaching with them and where we could pray and ask the Father where He was at work. And as they prayed, they asked the Father to forgive them for doing their own thing and thanked Him that He was already at work.
Two days later I received an email from the Pastor thanking me for sharing with his leaders and excitedly telling me that God’s presence broke through in the church service on the next day.
“The difference when we let God be the head of the church is that He can accomplish more in 6 months through people yielded to Him than we could do without Him in 60 years.” (Experiencing God)
Having an awareness of the Father being at work has changed my life and brought me to a place of trust and rest where I no longer have to go through life developing my own goals and making my own plans and depending on others for my financial needs. My life is now interspersed with divine appointments which can occur in the most unexpected places like on a plane trip, or having coffee after a church service, or prayer walking around my neighbourhood or talking with fellow returned soldiers at our weekly luncheons. And it all starts with having an awareness that the Father is at work and by following the prompts of the Holy Spirit.
- E – EXPECTANCY
Not only are we to be aware of the fact that the Father is at work but we are to live our lives in expectation that open doors of opportunity to live like Jesus could happen at any time.
“One of the greatest tragedies among God’s people is that while they have a deep longing to experience Him, they are experiencing God day after day, but do not know how to recognise Him.” (Experiencing God)
To live expectantly has caused me to always keep with me a copy of Rick Warren’s small booklet What On Earth Am I Here For? I can’t tell you how many copies of this booklet I have been prompted to share with people I have randomly met. I may never know the impact that they have had. But I have come to believe that by living expectantly I am indicating to the Holy Spirit that I will take His prompts seriously.
- I – INTIMACY
Jesus said, “For the Father loves me and shows me all He does.” In other words intimacy precedes activity, but is not without activity. Our goal is not to bring God into our activity, but rather to grow to understand life from His perspective and join with Him in His activity.
It is not surprising to see that Jesus prayerfully spent much time in the presence of His Father, so much so that He was keenly sensitive to His Father’s initiatives. I think of the unique encounter Jeus had with the Samaritan woman at a well that led to a revival in her village or the most unusual encounter Jesus had with Zacchaeus as He walked through a large crowd on His way to Jerusalem. In many occasions in Jesus’ life the Father was at work in the most unpredictable and unexpected times. And so it is likely to be in your life and mine as we develop an intimate relationship with the Father and become sensitive to His activity around us.
- O – OBEDIENCE
Obedience flows out of intimacy, for Jesus said, “If you love Me you will obey Me.”
The prompts of the Holy Spirit come to those people who are aware, expectant, intimate and obedient. To live a life of obedience requires us to give the Father permission to make major adjustments in our lives to join Him in what He is doing. For Sue and me, it came quite abruptly when, after only being married for 4 months we received an unexpected call to join the pastoral team of a church in another state in Australia. It required us to die to our careers and take a major step of faith to walk away from all of our plans and dreams. At that point I had never even stepped foot inside a Bible College.
“God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.” Experiencing God
- U – UNDERSTANDING
As we experience the Father at work, we grow in our knowledge of Him and His character. Our understanding of Him moves from our head to our heart and we come to trust Him and grow in our intimacy with Him. This results in us going to new and greater levels in our service for Him.
AS HE SO WE GET TO KNOW HIM AS
- meets all of our needs Provider
- opens and closes doors Shepherd
- reveals to us what He is doing Leader
- walks intimately with us Friend
- fulfils His promises Trustworthy and Faithful
- is working out His purposes in all things Sovereign
- watches over us Protector
- is the same yesterday, today and forever Dependable
“God is at work in the world reconciling a lost world to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. God takes the initiative to invite you to be involved with Him when you obey Him. He accomplishes His work through you in such a way that you and everyone else know that God has been at work. When you experience God working through you, you will come to know Him fully.” (Experiencing God)
A CLOSING PRAYER
when You invite me to join You in Your work, I will respond immediately.
I will adjust my life to You and Your ways.
It is a wonderful experience to be in a love relationship with You and have You trust me to join You in Your work.
Make clear to me what You are doing in Your timing.
Thank You that You will provide for all my needs.
At the end of my life I want to be able to say that I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.
I am indebted to the work of Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King in their book EXPERIENCING GOD…..Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Reading this book stirred me to go to a new level in my life’s goal, TO BE LIKE JESUS.