Role Models

We’ve all seen it before: sporting stars who have been caught in a fight off the field or found in a compromising position after drinking too much or taking illegal drugs. It’s sad and embarrassing – and it’s there for everyone to see.

How could they do that, the newspaper columnists and commentators ask. Don’t they know they are role models?

In the middle of the unwanted attention that comes from being at the centre of a media scandal, I bet those sporting celebrities wish they weren’t held up as examples by other people. They would probably prefer to avoid all the extra attention. But when you live in the spotlight, that can be hard.

And while none of us are high profile celebrities, we can understand that. It’s nice to have people whom we can hold in high esteem and learn from. When we trust someone and admire the way they live their life, it can be helpful to follow their lead and to take stock of the way they behave in different situations.

Over the last few months in our community we have been thinking about the role models we look to in our walk with Jesus. People from Scripture like Joseph, David, Paul and Stephen, and people we have met in our lives who have lived out their faith in an uncompromising way.

But being role models ourselves – that’s a whole different ball game.

When we are the ones that others are watching, that introduces a whole new level of responsibility and scrutiny into our lives. It means that we need to be uncompromising in the way we seek to follow Jesus. And that requires big commitment.

Yet isn’t that exactly what God expects from us?

Back in ancient times He called out the people of Israel to be a light to the nations, showing the rest of the world what it looked and felt like to live as God’s people. And since Jesus lived on earth, died and rose again, that mission has been extended to all of us who have called on His name.

In his letter to the first century church at Philippi, Paul urges them:

“You are to shine as lights among the sinful people of this world.” (Philippians 2:15b)

In other words, be role models to the rest of the world, demonstrating what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Being a role model is not an optional extra. It’s not something for super Christians who have reached a higher level. It’s what we are all called to do. And it’s something we should consider prayerfully and take seriously.

As we go about life, at work, at home, at study, in our sporting team, in our community, at the shops or the library, there are plenty of opportunities for us to choose to live for God.

One key to doing that is constantly choosing to park our own ambitions and desires to the side and actively seek God’s will and choose to follow it. When we do that, listening to the prompts and guides of the Holy Spirit, we will be well on the way to living lives that help to tell God’s story in a world where it is largely forgotten.

Recently in our Hope Group, we were looking at how Jesus surrendered to His Father’s will as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. As I looked to do that myself in the week that followed, I found that as I aligned my life with God’s will, it was easier and more natural to be loving to others.

Imagine the impact we could have on the people around us if we lived in a way that models what it means to truly follow Jesus.

A while ago, The Newsboys had a song called ‘Shine’ with a chorus that encapsulates what it looks like to live as a role model to those around us by following Jesus’ example:

Make 'em wonder whatcha got.
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored.
Let it shine before all men.
Let 'em see good works and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord.”

Our challenge and responsibility is to do just that.

- Tim