Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Imitating Jesus Well

I'm reading Conrad Gempf's great little book MEALTIME HABITS OF THE MESSIAH. What I love about Conrad is that he's this huge New Testament scholar (well, his scholarship is huge -- Conrad himself is normal-sized), but he writes in a very accessible style and has a good sense of humor. That's kind of a rare combination.

Anyway, I've skimmed the book once and really like the way he's organized the material. Now, I'm working my way through slowly. He has three questions that resurface throughout the book, and I want to talk a bit about the first one: We are supposed to imitate Christ, but how exactly?

There have been those who actively sought out their own deaths, for example. Usually, they would go around looking for people who were aggressively hostile towards the Christian faith and do things to bait those people into killing them. Is that what imitating Jesus looks like?

There are others who have withdrawn from society and gone to live in isolation. That doesn't seem very much like Jesus.

Spoiling for a fight -- avoiding other folks -- marching in the streets -- huddling up with others.

What does it look like when someone imitates Jesus well?