How should we imitate Jesus? (Part 1)

Sometime around my early teen years, there were all of these bracelets that said: “What would Jesus do?” The idea, of course, was that when you were making a decision, you would first think about how Jesus would approach the situation. You would try to imitate Jesus since he is the perfect example of how to live a godly life.

What would Jesus do?

“Jesus is our example.” It’s a nice thing to say. But how is Jesus our example? Are we supposed to wear sandals and walk around Palestine? Are we supposed to try and get ourselves crucified? Should we walk up to people and say “follow me”? Should we multiply bread to feed thousands of people?

It’s obvious that there are many specific details about Jesus’ life that we are not called to imitate. (Although you may disagree about which details!) But in what ways are we supposed to imitate Jesus? Or maybe we shouldn’t even try? Some might say that Jesus was so far beyond us that to attempt to imitate him is futile. In fact, attempting to do so may even be an insult to his grace because it presumes that we can attain to righteousness on our deeds.

What do the scriptures say? Did Jesus himself ever talk about if/how we should imitate him (or God the Father)? What about the apostles?

Postscript: a cool new thing I learned

Apparently, you can use wild cards and boolean expressions on Blue Letter Bible searches. So, hypothetically, you could use the expression imitat* OR example to search for every place in the Bible where the word “imitate”, “imitator”, “imitators”, or “example” appears. I think that’s cool.

This post continues the Q&A series I introduced in a previous post. As this is Part 1, I only introduce the question here. I’ll do my best to answer it in a second post.