Christians talk a lot about “the way of Christ.”
We are followers of Christ, so we actually need to follow Christ, walking in His ways.
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A crucial Scripture for Christ-followers, and one beloved by Anabaptists, is “Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did.” (1Jn 2.6)
In other words, if we are going to call ourselves Christians, we actually need to live like Jesus did when He walked this earth. If we aren’t following His example, then we aren’t walking in the way of Christ, and we likely shouldn’t call ourselves Christ-followers. Followers need to follow.
But what exactly is “the way of Christ?”
In its simplest form, of course, it means we follow the example and teaching of Jesus. We want to live like He lived, to talk like He talked, to engage with others the way He engaged with them.
So we pour through the Gospels, we study the words and life of Christ, we seek to align our lives with His life example.
As we do, here are a few big-picture thoughts on “the way of Christ.”
- The way of Christ is the way of radical obedience to God. Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me,” (Jn 8.28). Jesus’ life was one of prayer and seeking the Father, and acting only in what the Father showed Him to do. Jesus noted that the world needed to see “that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me,” (Jn 14.31) There was never a point where Jesus did what He wanted on His own; He lived His life in full and perfect submission to the will of God.
- The way of Christ is the way of bringing glory to God. It is most certainly not the way of bringing glory to ourselves. Jesus said, “I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and He is the judge,” (Jn 8.50). When people tried to praise Jesus while He was on earth, He turned the glory to the Father (Lk 18.18-19). He lived to turn the attention away from Himself, that people might see God through His life. That is our calling as well.
- The way of Christ is the way of radical love and sacrifice for others. The first and greatest commandment is to love God; the second is like it: to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mt 22:34-40). This love for others that Jesus demonstrated is shown most clearly at the Cross, and we are to love others with that same self-sacrificing love (1Jn 3.16). Jesus laid His own life down in love, and so we are to follow His example, laying down ourselves in loving service of other people.
- The way of Christ is the way of suffering. This is not a thought that gets cheers. But Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be “a man of sorrows, and familiar with pain,” (Isa 53.3). Peter wrote, “If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps,” (1Pe 2.20-21). The servant is not greater than the master; to truly follow Christ is experience the same rejection and pain that He did (Jn 15.18-20). But that is not the end:
- The way of Christ is the way of overcoming. Resurrection is always the end of the story! As we follow Him in suffering, we also follow Him in victory (1Co 15.57; Phil 3.10-11). We may not see the fulness of it until Heaven, but the way of Christ always, always, always leads us to life and triumph. We cannot lose, even if we lose, because the Redeemer is making all things new (Rev 21.5).
There is so much more that could be said, and this list is at best incomplete, no doubt. The words and teachings of Jesus require much more study and depth than this brief snapshot.
But hopefully it helps us to grasp some of the big picture of what we are called to, as we look to Christ, and to follow in His ways more deeply.
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