Go On Walking as Jesus Christ Walked
“He that says he remains in union with [God] is under obligation himself also to go on walking just as that one [Jesus] walked.”—1 JOHN 2:6.
1, 2. What is involved in looking intently at Jesus?
“LET us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” wrote the apostle Paul, “as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:1, 2) Following the course of faithfulness requires that we look intently at Jesus Christ.
2 The original-language word for “look intently,” as used in the Christian Greek Scriptures, means “to direct one’s attention without distraction,” “to look away from one thing so as to see another,” “to concentrate the gaze upon.” One reference work observes: “The minute the Greek runner in the stadium takes his attention away from the race course and the goal to which he is speeding, and turns it upon the onlooking crowds, his speed is slackened. It is so with the Christian.” Distractions can hinder our spiritual progress. We must look intently at Jesus Christ. And what are we looking for in the Chief Agent? The Greek term rendered “chief agent” means “chief leader, one that takes the lead in anything and thus furnishes the example.” Looking intently at Jesus calls for following his example.
3, 4. (a) Walking as Jesus Christ walked requires what on our part? (b) What questions deserve our attention?
3 “He that says he remains in union with [God] is under obligation himself also to go on walking just as that one [Jesus] walked,” states the Bible. (1 John 2:6) We must remain in union with God by observing Jesus’ commandments as he observed those of his Father.—John 15:10.
4 Hence, walking as Jesus walked requires that we closely observe him as the Chief Leader and that we follow his steps closely. The important questions to consider in this regard are: How does Christ lead us today? How should imitating his manner of walking affect us? What are the benefits of adhering to the pattern set by Jesus Christ?
How Christ Leads His Followers
5. Before his ascension to heaven, what promise did Jesus make to his followers?
5 Before ascending to heaven, the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples and assigned them an important work. He said: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations.” On that occasion the Chief Leader also promised to be with them as they fulfill this assignment, saying: “Look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) How is Jesus Christ with his followers in this time of the conclusion of the system of things?
6, 7. How does Jesus lead us by means of the holy spirit?
6 “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name,” said Jesus, “that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” (John 14:26) The holy spirit, sent in Jesus’ name, guides and strengthens us today. It enlightens us spiritually and helps us to understand “even the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:10) Moreover, the godly qualities of “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control” are “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) With the help of the holy spirit, we can cultivate these qualities.
7 As we study the Scriptures and endeavor to apply what we learn, Jehovah’s spirit helps us to grow in wisdom, discernment, understanding, knowledge, judgment, and thinking ability. (Proverbs 2:1-11) Holy spirit also helps us to endure temptations and trials. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7; Philippians 4:13) Christians are exhorted to ‘cleanse themselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness.’ (2 Corinthians 7:1) Can we really measure up to God’s requirement of holiness, or cleanness, without the help of the holy spirit? One of the means Jesus uses to lead us today is the holy spirit, which Jehovah God has authorized his Son to employ.—Matthew 28:18.
8, 9. How does Christ use “the faithful and discreet slave” to provide leadership?
8 Consider another means by which Christ leads the congregation today. Commenting on his presence and the conclusion of the system of things, Jesus said: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matthew 24:3, 45-47.
9 The “master” is Jesus Christ. The “slave” is the group of anointed Christians on earth. This slave class is entrusted with caring for Jesus’ earthly interests and with providing timely spiritual food. A small group of qualified overseers from among the composite “faithful and discreet slave” form the Governing Body, serving as the representative of the slave class. They direct the worldwide Kingdom-preaching work and the supplying of spiritual nourishment at the right time. Christ thus leads the congregation by means of the spirit-anointed “faithful and discreet slave” and its Governing Body.
10. What should be our attitude toward the elders, and why?
10 Still another manifestation of Christ’s leadership are the “gifts in men”—Christian elders, or overseers. They have been given “with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, for the building up of the body of the Christ.” (Ephesians 4:8, 11, 12) Concerning them, Hebrews 13:7 states: “Remember those who are taking the lead among you, who have spoken the word of God to you, and as you contemplate how their conduct turns out imitate their faith.” The elders take the lead in the congregation. Since they imitate Christ Jesus, their faith becomes worthy of imitation. (1 Corinthians 11:1) We can show our gratitude for the elder arrangement by being obedient and submissive to these “gifts in men.”—Hebrews 13:17.
11. By what means does Christ lead his followers today, and what is involved in walking as he did?
11 Yes, Jesus Christ leads his followers today through the holy spirit, “the faithful and discreet slave,” and the congregation elders. Our walking as Christ walked involves understanding his way of leading and submitting to it. It also requires that we imitate his manner of walking. “To this course you were called,” wrote the apostle Peter, “because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) In what way should following Jesus’ perfect model affect us?
Be Reasonable When Exercising Authority
12. What aspect of Christ’s example is of particular interest to the elders in the congregation?
12 Though Jesus had received unmatched authority from his Father, he was reasonable in the way he wielded it. All in the congregation—particularly the overseers—should let their “reasonableness become known to all men.” (Philippians 4:5; 1 Timothy 3:2, 3) Since elders have a measure of authority in the congregation, it is essential that they follow Christ’s footsteps in exercising it.
13, 14. In what way can elders imitate Christ as they encourage others to serve God?
13 Jesus took into consideration the limitations of his disciples. He did not demand of them more than they were capable of giving. (John 16:12) Without pressuring them, Jesus encouraged his followers to ‘exert themselves vigorously’ in doing God’s will. (Luke 13:24) He did this by taking the lead and by appealing to their hearts. Similarly, Christian elders today do not intimidate others into serving God through shame or guilt. Rather, they encourage them to serve Jehovah out of love for him and for Jesus, as well as for their fellow man.—Matthew 22:37-39.
14 Jesus did not abuse the authority entrusted to him by controlling people’s lives. He neither set unreachable standards nor laid down countless rules. His approach was to motivate others by reaching their hearts with the principles behind the laws given through Moses. (Matthew 5:27, 28) In imitation of Jesus Christ, the elders refrain from making arbitrary rules or insisting on their personal viewpoints. In matters of dress and grooming or recreation and entertainment, elders try to reach hearts using godly principles, such as those outlined at Micah 6:8; 1 Corinthians 10:31-33; and 1 Timothy 2:9, 10.
Be Sympathetic and Forgiving
15. How did Jesus respond to the failures of his disciples?
15 Christ left a model for us to follow in the way he treated his disciples’ failures and errors. Consider two events from his last night on earth as a human. After arriving at Gethsemane, Jesus “took Peter and James and John along with him” and told them to “keep on the watch.” Then, “going a little way forward he proceeded to fall on the ground and began praying.” Upon returning, he “found them sleeping.” How did Jesus respond? He said: “The spirit, of course, is eager, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:32-38) Instead of sharply rebuking Peter, James, and John, he expressed sympathy! On that same night, Peter denied Jesus three times. (Mark 14:66-72) How did Jesus treat Peter thereafter? “The Lord was raised up and he appeared to Simon [Peter].” (Luke 24:34) “He appeared to Cephas,” says the Bible, “then to the twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:5) Instead of feeling resentment, Jesus forgave the repentant apostle and strengthened him. Later, Jesus entrusted Peter with great responsibilities.—Acts 2:14; 8:14-17; 10:44, 45.
16. How can we walk as Jesus walked when our fellow believers fail us or wrong us in some way?
16 When our fellow believers fail us or wrong us in some way because of human imperfection, should we not also be sympathetic and forgiving as Jesus was? Peter urged his fellow believers: “All of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate, humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary, bestowing a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8, 9) What if another person fails to treat us as Jesus would have, refusing to be sympathetic or forgiving? Even then we are under obligation to try to imitate Jesus and respond as he would have.—1 John 3:16.
Put Kingdom Interests First
17. What shows that Jesus gave the doing of God’s will the first place in his life?
17 In yet another way, we need to walk as Jesus Christ walked. Declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom occupied the central place in Jesus’ life. After preaching to the Samaritan woman near the city of Sychar in Samaria, Jesus told his disciples: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) The doing of his Father’s will sustained Jesus; it was as nourishing, satisfying, and refreshing to him as food. Would imitating Jesus by remaining focused on doing God’s will lead to anything less than a truly meaningful and satisfying life?
18. What blessings result from encouraging children to take up the full-time service?
18 When parents encourage their children to take up full-time service, they as well as their offspring receive many blessings. A father of twin sons held pioneer service before them as a goal from their early childhood. After finishing their secular education, the twins did become pioneers. Reflecting on the joys he has experienced as a result, this father writes: “Our boys have not disappointed us. Gratefully we can say, ‘Sons are an inheritance from Jehovah.’” (Psalm 127:3) And how do children benefit from pursuing full-time service? A mother of five says: “Pioneering has helped all my children to develop a much closer relationship with Jehovah, has improved their personal study habits, has helped them learn how to manage their time wisely, and has helped them learn to put spiritual things first in their lives. Although all of them had to make many adjustments, none of them regret the path they have chosen to follow.”
19. What plans for the future should youths wisely consider?
19 Youths, what are your plans for the future? Are you seeking to excel in some professional field? Or are you working toward a career in the full-time service? “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons,” admonished Paul, “buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.” He adds: “On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.”—Ephesians 5:15-17.
20, 21. In what way was Jesus loyal, and how can we imitate his loyalty?
20 Walking as Jesus walked calls for imitating his loyalty. Concerning Jesus’ loyalty, the Bible states: “Although he was existing in God’s form, [he] gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” Jesus loyally upheld Jehovah’s sovereignty by submitting to God’s will for him. He became obedient as far as suffering death on a torture stake. We must “keep this mental attitude” and loyally submit to doing God’s will.—Philippians 2:5-8.
21 Jesus also showed loyalty to his faithful apostles. Despite their weaknesses and imperfections, Jesus loved them “to the end.” (John 13:1) Similarly, we should not let the imperfections of our brothers cause us to adopt a critical attitude.
Adhere to the Pattern Set by Jesus
22, 23. What are the benefits of adhering to the pattern set by Jesus?
22 Of course, as imperfect humans, we cannot walk precisely in the footsteps of our perfect Exemplar. However, we can strive to follow his steps closely. Doing so requires that we understand and submit to Christ’s way of leading and stick to the pattern he set.
23 Becoming imitators of Christ leads to many blessings. Our life becomes more meaningful and satisfying because we are focused on doing God’s will rather than our own. (John 5:30; 6:38) We have a good conscience. Our way of walking becomes exemplary. Jesus invited all who were toiling and loaded down to come to him and find refreshment for their souls. (Matthew 11:28-30) When we follow Jesus’ example, we too can refresh others by our association. Let us, then, continue to walk as Jesus walked.
Do You Recall?
• How does Christ lead his followers today?
• How can elders follow Christ’s lead in exercising their God-given authority?
• How can we follow Jesus’ example when dealing with the shortcomings of others?
• How can youths put Kingdom interests first?
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Christian elders help us to follow Christ’s leadership
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Young people, what plans are you making for a rewarding Christian life?