The story is told that President Calvin Coolidge invited some people from his hometown to dinner at the White House. Since they did not know how to behave at such an occasion, they thought the best policy would be just to do what the President did. The time came for serving coffee. The President poured his coffee into a saucer. As soon as the home folk saw it, they did the same. The next step for the President was to pour some milk and add a little sugar to the coffee in the saucer. The home folks did the same. They thought for sure that the next step would be for the President to take the saucer with the coffee and begin sipping it. But the President didn’t do so. He leaned over, placed the saucer on the floor and called the cat. Following even a good example involves more than good intentions!
Christ’s example is always a reliable standard of righteousness to follow: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). And 1 John 2:6 states, ” He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Thomas a Kempis’ classic devotional book, The Imitation of Christ, is based on this theme. The difficulty of trying to imitate Christ’s standard of living is that it typically results in failure and frustration, as Paul confessed, ” I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:21-24).
While the motive of following Christ’s example is good, the method is crucial. When imitating Christ is attempted in the flesh, apart from abiding in Christ, this noble goal becomes unscriptural! Christ said “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In his book, Sidetracked in the Wilderness, Michael Wells affirmed “Abundant life is not something to work for, but rather is something to work from. My acceptance is not based on what I do but rather on what I am. Abundant life does nor require that I imitate Jesus, but rather that I participate in His life; it does not require that I work to believe, but that I work because I believe”
It is the grace of God that saves us, keeps us, and enables us (Eph 2:8,9; Rom 5:1,2) As our Lord said to Paul, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).
Imitate the Lord by discovering more and more the dynamic of Christ Himself living in and through you by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Our Father, we thank you for the divine love that sent Jesus to be born with a sinless human nature. We rejoice that He was qualified to pay for our sins on Calvary’s cross. We praise You for His present ministry as our living High Priest. Give us wisdom to appreciate Christ’s perfect example, while discerning the way to abide in Christ. May the Holy Spirit have full sway in our lives to express Christ’s life through us. In Your mighty name, amen.
 John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., (July 4, 1872 – January 5, 1933) was the 30th President of the United States (1923-1929).
 In our zeal to defend the deity of Christ we sometimes minimize the humanity of Christ.
We know that the Son of God became fully human through the virgin birth and continues to be human through His glorified body (1 Tim. 3:16). Christ clothed Himself with human nature to secure our redemption administer in heaven today as our High Priest (Heb. 7:25). Jesus’ amazing condescension has been rewarded by His supreme exaltation (Phil.2:5-10). Defending Christ’s atoning work may result in minimizing the value of His perfect example. Liberal theologians reject the true meaning of the atonement, while trying to maintain the importance of Christ’s ethical example. Yet His example cannot be separated from His identity and mission ! (1 Pet.2:24;3:18).
 Sidetracked in the Wilderness, p. 14. www.abidinglife.com
For further study, see the Grace Note: https://gracenotebook.com/how-did-jesus-do-what-he-did/
Copyright by John Woodward, 1998, 2019. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use.
Please credit Grace Fellowship International. Scripture quotations(unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.