“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
I remember when I read those words for the first time. I was in awe. I knew Jesus taught about forgiveness. But here He was: hanging on the cross, covered in wounds; His own people insulting Him, laughing at His misery, gambling for His possessions. Yet in that moment, He chose to forgive. He chose to do what He always did. He was dying, but He was still leading people.
Jesus’ forgiveness on the cross demonstrated the main reason people followed Him during His time on earth. Jesus didn’t just lead with His words; He led with His life. He didn’t merely tell us to forgive; He forgave. There was no difference between the words He spoke and the life He lived.
One of the most effective ways we can lead others to Jesus is by following closely after Him. We lead with our lives. When we live like Jesus—with no difference between who we say we are and how we live—our lives become our best presentation of the Gospel.
So what does it look like to lead with your life?
Here are 3 ways we can lead others to Jesus, by living like Jesus.
- Be approachable. Jesus was approachable. Whether it was outcasts, children, Jewish leaders, or Roman centurions, people of all walks of life approached Jesus. So what made Him so approachable? He was humble and available. Although He was the Son of God, Jesus did not present Himself as better than others. Instead, He was often found in places that were looked down upon. He did not seclude Himself amongst those who were similar to Him, but rather put Himself in situations where He interacted with people vastly different from Himself. Jesus ate with sinners, spoke to women, and touched lepers. He found Himself among both the most powerful and the most rejected people because He understood that in God’s economy, the only thing that matters is the heart.
- Be accepting. Jesus loved people where they were. He did not expect them to get their lives together before they came to know Him. If we look at His encounters with Zacchaeus, the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, and many more, we see that He extended relationship to them while they were still sinners. He accepted them where they were. Then—through relationship with Him—a transformation began.
- Love actively. Jesus did not merely speak pleasantries to those around Him. He showed them love. He touched them. He healed them. He served them. He grieved with them. He had compassion on them. Jesus cared about the people He came in contact with. He didn’t just see them for what they had done (or had not done). He saw them for who they were. And oh yeah, He left the perfection of heaven to enter our world!
As you reflect on how Jesus led with His life, I challenge you to look at your own life.
- Are you approachable? Do you recognize your own need for a savior, reaching out to others with humility? Do you put yourself in situations where you can get to know people who are different from you? Do you know your neighbors?
- Are you accepting? Do you love people where they are or do you require others to meet a behavioral standard before you engage with them?
- Do you love actively? Are you invested in other people’s lives? How are you demonstrating your love to those around you? Are you a go-to for people who need help?
As you work toward living like Jesus, your love for others will set you apart. Just as people followed Jesus when they saw the integrity He lived with, you too can lead others with your life.