My first thought when I think about people who I consider strong believers is that they seem to have it all together. Even in the bad times they keep the faith and lift their hands and hearts to God. Nothing can sway them from their faith and love for God. For the longest time, I thought that there must be something inherently different about them, something that makes them special. When I looked into their lives I saw that there was something different but it wasn't of their doing but simply the grace of God living in them that made the difference. It wasn't that they were special but that the God in which they serves was living through them. When I saw this, I wanted it! I wanted to have that resiliency and passion for God but I didn't know where to start. So I continued to seek guidance by watching what they did and how they carried themselves in difficult situations. I taught myself the ways of the Lord via the ways of the believers around me. I was following the example of these believers as they were following the example of Jesus.
As I look back to my childhood I notice that have always done this, as the second-born, I always put a lot of pressure on myself to live up to the example my sister had set for me. As I got older, I looked to my parents and mentors to set an example for me in how to live. So it is no surprise that I would do the same thing when it comes to my faith. In fact, the Bible tells us to be imitators of Christ and to follow in His footsteps…
1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Ephesians 5:1, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
1 Peter 2:21, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
But let's be honest, being like Jesus is simply unattainable. We know that Jesus sets the example of how we should act in every situation, but we also know that we cannot live up to His example because He was fully God just as much fully man. Although we are facing an uphill battle being like Jesus, we should be trying to be more like Him every day in every way. Another way to become more like Jesus is to look at others that were with Him during His ministry. The people who were with Him in the good and the bad but were fully human just like us. Those people would be the apostles, the first followers of Christ.
When we look at the apostles we see they were not much different than us. They were fishermen, tax collectors, and politicians. We learn that there was nothing special about the apostles. Acts 4:13 says, “The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” They were ordinary men with no special training but what made them special is that had humbled themselves and took up their cross to follow Jesus.
I find it a lot easier and more attainable to look to the apostles for guidance. It gives me a lot of peace knowing that the apostles, the men who were the closest to Jesus were just normal people with flaws and headaches. It gives me peace to know that Jesus chose these men despite their shortcomings. On many occasions, they even failed and had to ask for forgiveness. Just take a look at Peter when he denied knowing Jesus three times on the day He was crucified, despite Jesus telling him he would do so. There are even examples of Jesus telling His followers to not tell anyone about the miracles He was performing but they did. If you are really looking for encouragement, take a look at Paul who went from killing Christians to spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth. We can see in these few examples and many others that the followers of Jesus are just normal people doing their best to follow the ways of the Lord.
I tell you all of this to help illustrate that we do not have to be perfect, worth, or even special to be a follower of Christ. His great love and power makes us right in His eyes. All we much do is choose to humble ourselves and seek His guidance over the ways of the world. There is nothing we can do to earn the love of God, it is a gift that was bought on the cross. Don’t be afraid to be ordinary! In fact, embrace it and use it as an example of how God can use any one of us for His purpose. When you fall short, simply ask for forgiveness and work on not making that mistake again.