Below is a devotion I gave at halftime of a youth ministry Super Bowl party.
I’ve been learning more and more about the life of Christ. Below are some questions that got me thinking from someone who has taught me about the life of Jesus named Dann Spader:
Did Jesus ever get hurt on the playground?
Did Jesus ever make a mistake? (remember a mistake is not necessarily sin)
Do you think that Jesus as a kid ever used his God powers?
Did Jesus ever question what to do next?
Did Jesus ever get sick?
Did Jesus have a favorite Jewish stickball team?
Did Jesus ever have a bad day spiritually where God the Father seemed far away?
Did Jesus ever get subtweeted or have an embracing snapchat saved?
Jesus was a teenager like you and me at one time too. He wasn’t born at 30 years of age. He had to learn to obey. He increased in wisdom and stature. Jesus was a middle schooler once. He was a high schooler once. Jesus was a twenty-something too. Jesus had to make choices. He had to wrestle with who he was as a person and what he was going to do with his life.
Right now these story lines of identity and history are playing out before our very eyes in the NFL. One of the many storylines in this Super Bowl is the story of Peyton Manning’s past greatness and professionalism and Cam Newton’s rise to the face of the NFL. The narrative that the media tells about Cam deals directly with learning to grow up. Essentially, what he has said regarding his image is causing so much controversy. “You can’t compare me to anyone.” Cam dabs and he dances. “You’ve never seen anyone like me before,” as he grins ear to ear. Cam has the I can do it all mentality.
Cam intrigues the the casual fan because people either are drawn to him and his attitude, or you’ve come to get fed up with him because he doesn’t act like a “quarterback”—essentially that he doesn’t act like Peyton.
With his rise, Cam is saying forget imitating anyone else, I’m going to be me. This is a powerful position. It’s powerful because the tension is very real where you embrace this line of thinking in light of Scripture. The tension between being unique by being us and imitating Godly men and women. Often we cheer, be yourself, but being yourself without a sense of Scripture is honestly dangerous. Because all throughout scripture we are taught to imitate others, not only in action, but inner thinking and in our heart by loving God and loving people. Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ. A true disciple learns how to think and act like his teacher—imitation within the head and heart, as well as actions. So, as you look at your own life who are you imitating?
As you reflect on who you are imitating with your life. I’d like to point you to the person we are to imitate. As we go through this life 1 John 2:6 says, “The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.” We do what Jesus did. We are to think and act like Jesus. We do this because of faith.
What does it mean to walk as Jesus walked? Literally we are to step the the footprints he has laid out for us. Trust that his footprints lay out a good path for our life. I think of when it snows and there are inches upon inches. Is it wiser to charge your own path and get snow in your boots or step where people have stepped. We can step through the snow after Jesus because he was tempted just like us in every way and did not give into sin as he stepped through this life. We can do this because Jesus lived through his teenage years. He lost loved ones. He struggled with how popular or not popular he was. He wrestled with the meaning of his life and mission. Because of his struggle and his victory, by faith, let’s imitate his character and priorities. Faith being a foundational mindset and lifestyle, the writer of Hebrews says this in regard to imitating those who learned to live like Jesus wanted them to…
Hebrews 12:1-2 “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.”
When we walk as Jesus walked, we will lay aside sin because we have a team of people on a journey of following Jesus. We will look to Jesus and imitate his character and priorities that he showed in his life on earth. We will keep our eyes on the rise Lord because He has made it.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and walk as he walked. We will marvel at the greatness of Jesus and rise to make an impact and affect generations to come—whether you become as polarizing as Cam in a Christ centered way, or you stay reserved and faithful and out of controversy like Peyton, either way people will talk and you can point to Jesus.
If you want to do something meaningful with your life you will keep your eyes on the exalted Jesus and imitate the Jesus that walked on this earth.