When a house is to be built, before the masons and the carpenters commence work, the architect is called in to make a drawing of the building. As the workmen conform to his plans, they realize the ideal that was in his mind.
The trouble with most people is that their lives are not formed according to any plan. They are not striving to resemble any model. They have no definite aim and purpose.
This is the cause of sorrow and suffering and disappointment. We owe it to ourselves to set an ideal before ourselves, and then press toward the attainment of it with all our being. The ideal should be the highest possible, and we cannot aim higher than Christ.
He is a perfect model in every way. The Bible tells us how perfectly he conformed to His Father's will, leaving us an example in service, in love, in prayer, in self-sacrifice, in dependence upon God. And all this because He was divine.
And yet if he had been only divine, and not human, too, He could never have served as our model. It is because He took upon Himself our form and likeness, passing through human experiences, realizing human needs, and undergoing human temptations and trials, that He is possible as our model.
His atoning death opened the door for us into the Christian life. But that is only the entrance. There is a path to be trod, and here Christ in his life on earth is the model for every believer to follow.
How thankful I am that we have a record of His life! Gladstone once said that precept freezes while example warms; precept is a marble statue, while example is a thing of flesh and blood. The great defect of other religions and philosophies is that, while they may contain beautiful maxims and exhortations, they do not give the power to follow these out. But Christ embodied what he taught. He was a living example that we may imitate.
There is a story of a Bohemian king, St. Wenceslaus, going to devotions in a distant church, one snowy winter night. His servant followed, trying to imitate his zeal; but the way was rough, and he began to faint. The king told him to step in the marks he made, and he was able to follow. Christ commanded us to follow in His steps. The path is smoother because He trod it.
Is it possible to be like Christ? Doubt and unbelief say, No. Faith says, Yes. God commands it, and therefore it must be possible. But how? Because we can have the same life, the same mind in us as was in Christ. If we are "partakers of the divine nature," if we are branches of the true Vine, the same fruit will show in our life as in His. He will dwell in our hearts by faith, and our lives may thus become the expression of His own.
I do not say that here we shall ever be like our model in measure or degree. But light is light, whether it be candle-light, gaslight, electric light, or sunlight. It is the same in kind or nature, if not in degree. So we may really resemble Christ, although we do not realize the full measure of his divine perfection. A good definition of sanctification or holiness would be, conformity to His example. He is the Light of the world; we are to shine as lights in the world. He is the Word; we are epistles.
How can we get power to copy our model?
1. Learn of Christ. Do not look to men. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews Paul tells of Old Testament worthies, but lest we should try to imitate them he immediately turns away our eyes and fixes them on Jesus, —"looking unto Jesus."
2. Claim by faith the promises of the indwelling Christ. Until we are born again, and he lives in us by the Spirit, all our efforts will be vain.
3. Keep in touch with Him. Get better acquainted with Him. Talk to Him in prayer. Let Him talk to you through the Bible. It is a recognized fact that two persons thrown together a good deal are apt to become alike in habits of thought and conduct, and even in looks. It is said of the early disciples that the rulers "took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." Moses had a shining face after he had been with God.
From Golden Counsels by D. L. Moody. Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, ©1899.
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