Summary: The essence of being a Christian is to walk as Jesus walked.
THE ESSENCE OF BEING A CHRISTIAN
I John 2:3-7 "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning."
I John 4:15-17 "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world."
These passages catch and express the very essence of Christianity; which is Christ-likeness. Even the world understands this. Failure on the Christian’s part to measure up to the moral, ethical and scriptural standards taught, lived and commanded by Christ, will bring immediate condemnation by the world. The charge of hypocrisy will be justifiably sheeted home to the culprit caught in conversation or conduct that does not commend Christ or coincide with His character or conduct.
It is well know that followers of Christ in the local church at Antioch, located in the modern country of Syria, were first scornfully and derisively called Christians because those in their world recognized their apparently successful attempts to pattern their lives after their teacher and guide, Jesus Christ. They evidently exuded the essence of the Christ-life in their every day walk before men. Perhaps they were not touched and tainted by the stench of the world nor did they smell of the unsavoury odors associated with worldly living. In this context, the condemnation and carping criticism of their worldly contemporaries can be correctly considered Godly commendation.
We have all heard a number old sayings on this subject many times. Such as, "I’d rather see a sermon, as hear one any day, I’d rather one would walk with me, as merely show the way." Or, "If you were accused and brought to trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Or, "You’re living a gospel, a chapter each day, by the deeds that you do, and the words that you say. People are reading your gospel, whether faithless or true. Say, what is the gospel, according to you." The very fact that the old cliches come so easily to mind confirms the validity and importance of the proposition they propose to the Christian.
But these two strong and uncompromising statements, "He that saith he abideth (lives) in him ought TO WALK EVEN AS HE WALKED." And, " ..."as he is, SO ARE WE IN THE WORLD" clearly confirm that Christ-likeness is the absolutely essential essence of the Christian’s existence.
We are told to look to Jesus as the only real pattern. He is the author and finisher of our faith. Our vision is to be Christ centered. We are not to look to the right or the left. We are to be vertically focused and oriented, not horizontally. When our Saviour was confronted with those who were critically comparing themselves and their calling and conduct to other believers He said in effect, "What has that to do with you? Follow thou me!" Our thoughts and affections are to be focused upon Him Who is far above all the worries and anxieties of this temporal world.
Impossible you may say? Of course. But all things are possible with God. In previous and following verses the writer admits this and deals with all the ramifications of the frailty of our sinful flesh and our daily need for forgiveness and cleansing as we walk through moral muck and mire of this messed up world. It is in such a context that he urges Christ-likeness as the Godly plan and pattern for countering the calamities of our natural condition.
It is natural for man to be a copy cat. We hear about copy cat crime. We know the terrible tragedies that can be attributed to the lack of good adult role models. We know the problems involved in placing impressionable young men and women in the midst of a prison population of hardened and experienced criminals. The resulting high rate of recidivism should come as no surprise. We also know the terrible decay and destruction being harvested by cultures whose role models have become degenerate rock stars and television and sports idols, Hollywood actors and the fantasy characters portrayed in the ungodly television and cinema fare of our day. It is unreasonable to assume that such media will not result in the promotion of an immoral and destructive life-style. After all, advertisers pay billions for the same stars and media to promote conduct that will result in increased sales of their products!