Some of you have been asking about my upcoming book “Live Like Jesus.” Specifically, I’ve had some questions about release date, topics, and format. I don’t have a release date yet, as I don’t want to rush final proofreading and editing, but I am hoping for January. As far as topics and format go, I really just wanted to put out a book that allowed people to use the Bible to live more like Christ. I wanted to take a hard look at 10 character traits that were displayed by Christ, how he displayed them, and how we can do the same. To really see what this book is about and why, you can take a sneak peek at the introduction below. Enjoy!
When I went to college, my parents bought me a 1984 El Camino from my old boxing coach. It was my dream car. By the time we got done with it, it was Chevrolet Torch Red with two giant white racing stripes. The engine was a small-block 350 from a 1975 C20 pickup. That car was awesome. But, I was moving 300 miles from home, and it needed repairs and tuneups fairly regularly. I learned quickly that it was tough to trust mechanics. That do-it-yourself mindset started to show up quickly as I learned more and more about working on the car myself. Seriously, ask Sarah. We’d be out on a date and, without much warning, we’d be sitting in a parking lot putting in a new distributor or adjusting a carburetor. And here’s one of the first things I learned: everything is connected. An engine needs three basic things to run: fire (spark), fuel, and air. Without any one of those things, the engine is useless. But it also takes a very complicated process to deliver all three of those things to the engine correctly. The machine is full of parts, and each one of them has a very specific job. When one thing messes up, it shuts down the entire system. Everybody knows what would happen if you removed an important part like the gas tank. The car won’t work. But even a small, seemingly insignificant part can cause huge problems. They all affect the other parts. This kind of interconnectivity is also present in our character.
So what is character? Character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” That’s a really elongated way of saying that character is what defines your morality. Are you arrogant? Are you an honest person? Are you selfish? Gentle? Loving? That’s your character. And it’s important. Each part of your character relies on other parts. That means that from time to time, discussions on character can feel repetitive. That’s not because they aren’t about original thoughts, but because they are so interconnected that they have a lot of overlap. For example, you can’t decide that you are going to be an honest person, but also be selfish. Because at some point, you will have to choose. Will you be dishonest for personal gain, or will you be honest even though it costs you something? It all works together. And when our character is shot, so is our reputation. As I said before, society is judging us closely, and they’re using our character to do it. We’ve probably all heard Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” What he really means is that we don’t have Christ’s character. And honestly, we never will. Christ was perfect. We cannot be perfect. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t try. I talked to a group of people at one point about “raising the bar” in their ministry and how we need to make sure that our standards are high. I was met with resistance, including one person that believed that “because we can never be perfect, it doesn’t matter.” That’s a defeatist attitude, and it absolutely kills character. It degrades into a downward spiral by saying “we may as well compromise morally, because we can’t be perfect anyway.” It becomes easier and easier to compromise, and eventually our character and our morals are for sale to any bidder.
It’s tough to live up to someone who is perfect. But that should be our target. After all, if you were opening a business, would you look to someone who has never succeeded? Or would you look to someone like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? That’s what we’re going to do here. We’re going to look to success to look for success. Let’s use Christ’s character to give us a target. Let’s look at ten character traits of Christ. Let’s see how the Holy Spirit gives us these traits. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:23-24 that instead of keeping your old sinful self, you should “Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Christ gives us a new nature. Let’s not just look at those traits and see how the Holy Spirit has given them to us, but see how we can hone those traits, practice them, and learn how to use them to become more like Christ. Each chapter will give one of the traits from the life of Christ, and then you’ll be given four days worth of devotionals to look at that trait in other parts of the Bible. Happy reading, and I’ll be praying for you as you look for guidance to mold your character to match that of Christ.