To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21 NIV)
Have you ever heard it said that Jesus Christ led a perfect life and in so doing set us an example to follow?
The words of Peter above are often used in support of such a statement. The problem for me is that in the next verse Peter says, He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. (V.22)
Bang goes my chances of being able to follow the example of Jesus since, believe it or not, I sin and deceit is found in my mouth.
How can I possibly follow in Jesus steps?
Eugene Peterson in his Message paraphrase sheds some light on my dilemma when he begins verse 21 with the phrase This is the kind of life youve been invited into.
Walking where Jesus walked is not so much me trying to live my life like Jesus, which frankly is impossible, but rather I am being invited into the life Jesus lived.
He came to give himself to us, to establish a relationship with us and to include us in his own relationship with the Father. He came to share with us his life so that we could experience and participate in it.
This means that Jesus did not come to set us an example and then command us to do likewise. What he does is far, far better. Before he tells us to do something, he shares with us his life and invites us to participate in it.
He takes his own love, faith, peace and joy, and shares them with us, and then tells us to live in them.
The apostle John seemed to grasp this as well as anyone when he recorded Jesus own words:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11)
I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them. (John 17:26)
It is as J.B. Torrance explained in his book Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace, that The Father has given to us the Son and the Spirit to draw us into a life of shared communion-of participating through the Spirit in the Sons communion with the Father-that we might be drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God. (P.36)
Jesus lives in in communion with the Father in the Spirit and he wants to share that relationship with us.
We are invited to participate in the very life of the triune God.
Because we belong to God and are included in his holy relationship we are able to experience the life Jesus lives with the Father in the fellowship of the Spirit and truly follow in his steps.
Father, may it be that it is no longer I that lives but Christ Jesus who lives in and through me. Thank you for including me and may I participate fully in your life.
Have a good week participating with Jesus.