As believers, we recognize Jesus as the Son of God and the Christ (or Messiah). Jesus was also a first-century Jewish rabbi (or “teacher”). As a rabbi, Jesus traveled throughout Israel teaching the Scriptures. However, Jesus did not merely invite people to believe facts about him or his teachings. Jesus’ invitation was a call to follow him and to become his disciple.
The goal of being a disciple is to become like your teacher. Jesus said it this way, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
God desires to transform us into the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). Yet, in the chaos of our busy, digital, social media world with text message alerts, meetings after meetings, the demands of a two-year-old, how do we become like Jesus?
The answer is simple. You live like Jesus. I am not saying it is easy. But it is simple.
If we want to become like Jesus, we must adopt the lifestyle of Jesus.
Again, being a follower of Jesus is not just believing the right stuff about Jesus; it is practicing the ways of Jesus.
My Dream to Play for the Dallas Cowboys
Growing up my dream was to be the next Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys. Staubach was my favorite football player and the greatest quarterback ever (at least in my opinion!). I watched all of his games, collected his football cards, and knew all of his stats (not an easy feat to accomplish pre-internet).
As a child, I would divide my stuffed animals into two teams, scatter them down my long hallway, and pretend I was Roger Staubach by throwing my nerf football to the correct stuffed animals against the dreaded Pittsburg Steelers.
My dream took another step forward in little league when I played quarterback. In middle school, I was a backup quarterback for the football team. My mom still has a newspaper article stating that “Conaway shows great promise at quarterback.” Unfortunately, during my freshman year in high school, my aspirations to be Roger Staubach ended. Our team’s offense was no “run and gun” it was a “run and grind it out.” We rarely threw the ball. I excelled at handing the ball off, but I never developed the ability to throw the football accurately. Why? Because I rarely practiced it. I did not follow the practices of Roger Staubach, and therefore I never become like him.
Becoming Like Jesus
Dallas Willard offers this powerful insight, “We can become like Christ by doing one thing—by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself. . . We can, through faith and grace, become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced.”
Unfortunately, too many of us want the life of Jesus without the lifestyle of Jesus.
Here are some practical ways to practice the lifestyle of Jesus:
- Silence and solitude – Immediately after his baptism, Jesus went straight into the desert (Matthew 4:1). The word for desert can also mean an “a solitary place absent of inhabitants.” Entering into a solitary place was not just a one-time act for Jesus. All four gospels emphasize Jesus’ intentional and regular habit of entering into places of solitude and silence to be with God and be strengthened (see Luke 5:16).
- Prayer – Jesus teaches us the importance of creating space to encounter God when he instructs us “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
- Rest – After an incredibly busy and productive ministry outing in Mark 6, Jesus invited the disciples to a quiet place to unplug from life and get rest (v. 31).
As followers of Jesus, we need to detach from the busyness of the world to be more attached to Jesus.
Jesus states, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Unfortunately, to follow Jesus’ invitation to come with him, disconnect from life, and to rest seems nearly impossible in the American culture of constant activity, busy schedules, and the drive for productivity. For many of us, the greatest challenge to unplugging and being able to enter into the practices of Jesus is our phones.
The world changed in 1450 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. In the same manner, we will very likely look back to January 9, 2007, when Steve Jobs held up the first iPhone and said, “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone.” That day was not just a reinvention of the phone; it began the era of continuous digital connection. Unfortunately, carrying a phone with us in our bags or back pocket has also brought tremendous problems and challenges.
As disciples of Jesus, we need to develop the habit of unplugging digitally and entering into intentional times with Jesus and his lifestyle. Here are some ways we can unplug:
- Do not get on your phone for the first 30-60 minutes after you wake up.
- Learn how to leave your work at work. When you arrive home, turn your phone off or set it on do not disturb for several hours.
- Plan a 24-hour sabbath and technology-free day for yourself. List out several activities that would nourish your physically (sleeping in), emotionally (reading a book, taking a walk), and spiritually (walking and praying, reading the Bible, spending time in community with others).
- Keep track of how much time you spend on your phone. You can download an app to track your usage. Research articles on how you can turn your smartphone into a dumb-phone for periods of time.
Remember, we become like Jesus by intentional adopting the lifestyle of Jesus.