By Ray Stites
We were driving on an interstate highway. The construction signs warned there would be but one lane in the construction zone, instead of the three lanes currently available. Many people followed the directions on the signs, making adjustments in speed and changing lanes as necessary.
But several vehicles sped up to get in front of as many cars as possible, cutting off drivers trying to drive responsibly. A few drivers stayed in the lanes that were to be closed in the work area until the last moment and forced their way into the single lane that was open; responsible drivers were forced to make adjustments to avoid being hit or bumping into the interlopers’ cars. The behavior of such drivers displays what I call the “I’ve Got Mine” or “Me First” mentality. Everyone else is second.
How Should We Then Live? (Crossway Books, 2005) is the title Francis Schaeffer chose for his book about the history of living for Jesus. The title and theme are appropriate because the New Testament is full of directions for the Christian Life. Schaeffer emphasized thinking about the Christian life in addition to offering specific examples of what Christians have done through the centuries.
Paul’s formula for living as a Christian is to imitate Christ. The statement is simple; the practice is difficult. All you need to do is find Jesus’ specific response to the situation you are facing. So how would Jesus treat the irresponsible driver who cut him off in the construction zone and almost hit him?
Paul understood imitating Christ as embracing the mindset of Christ and acting consistently within the mindset. The “why” of living for Christ is the foundation for the “how” of Christian living. Jesus saw himself as a humble servant of God, a servant who merited everyone’s praise yet offered his life for everyone.
Jesus demonstrated that he valued others by his redemptive work. Paul said we are to value others as Jesus did. Though our death for another will not redeem him, our life is to be lived with a willingness to die for another because that is what Jesus did.
Ray D. Stites is the CEO of the Christian Churches Pension Plan. He and his wife, Merelyn, live in Tonganoxie, Kansas.