"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" – Hebrews 12:2.

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When I set out to write this essay, I wanted its caption to be "Jesus Christ – The Perfect Role Model", however, on closer examination of the function of a role model, I had to consider a life model instead. It is true that very many of us have role models. These are people who possess distinctive and excellent characteristics that endear us to them. These are the people we emulate and want to be like. Usually, role models, are people who have become successful in certain fields of endeavours and we watch their lives closely to discover the secrets that enabled them to succeed so that we can succeed as they did. Often however, our role models are people we can rarely have contact with. They may be famous entrepreneurs, professionals, soccer stars, musicians, etc, and as such we only watch them from afar hoping to become like them. Also, we normally have more than one role model, each representing an impressive character in an aspect of life's endeavours. Our role models could be examples of people who become successful by diligence, courage, honesty, hardwork, skills utilization and so on, and since it is impossible for one person to be an embodiment of all these great characters, we necessarily have more than one role model. Some of our role models may be people who succeeded in business but were not successful in marriage, so while we follow their example in business, it would be tragic to follow their example in marriage. On this background therefore, if we can find someone who is an all-round role model; In business, in social life, in marriage, in faith, and all other aspects of life, such a person is a life-model. Well, who is your life-model? I am sure you cannot readily mention a name. There is one we can all have; He is Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. He is the perfect example to follow in all spheres of life. He is the perfect life model we all need to have.

God, our creator, gave us His only begotten Son to come to live in this world, ultimately to die for the sins of man and make atonement by the shedding of His blood. Beyond this ultimate purpose, the Son of God had to live on the earth thirty three and a half years, and God used the example of His sinless life to demonstrate that if we look unto Him and follow Him, we can also live a life that makes God happy. Romans 8 verse 29 tells us this God's plan; "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren". My dear friends, Christ is an embodiment of all virtues, all wisdom, and all grace, and the more we look to Him and study the way He lived in this world, in a bid to emulate Him, the more we will become like Him and also make a success of our lives in this world and have the assurance of living eternally with God. It is instructive to note that none of us is like God naturally because of the fallen nature, the Adamic nature we inherited at birth, hence the need for a total transformation and regeneration through repentance and faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Therefore to become more like God we need to submit ourselves to a daily process of conforming to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew 3:17, God testified about Jesus Christ saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". Again He made another testimony in Matthew 17: 5, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" He is the only human example, that God so certified and commanded us to follow after. Though we may have some other human examples, but these are all imperfect and we may still discover some areas of weaknesses in their lives. It is good for us to follow the good examples of our pastors, ministers of the gospel and other mature believers, but the truth is that they are all still striving towards perfection and are not yet perfect. When Apostle Paul recommended others to follow his example, he did not set himself as the standard but referred to Jesus Christ, hence he said, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Friends let us follow the example our Lord Jesus Christ has shown of a life that pleases God and let us seek to be more like Him this year.

Now let us examine some of the things our Lord Jesus Christ taught and also did so that we can have examples to follow in our daily activities. First of all is the fact that Jesus Christ had the ultimate purpose of pleasing God in all He did. Though He was in the form of God (Philippians 2:5-6), yet He totally submitted His will to His father's will in obedience to His purpose at all times. On the way travelling from Judea to Galilee and passing through Samaria, the Lord Jesus Christ obviously was exhausted, hungry and thirsty, but on meeting a woman at a well who was used and abused and could not find joy in five marriages that never worked, He stopped to minister to her deep hurt and pain, giving her the water of life that quenched her thirsty soul. Through this woman, the whole city came out to meet Him in that powerful crusade that followed, and though He was hungry, He gave up food and ministered to this people, saying to His disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work (John 4:34). Let us emulate this example of surrendering our will to the will of God. Jesus Christ surrendered totally to God's will, even when it was His death. It was not easy for Him as He prayed in  the garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. He prayed for the cup of suffering to pass by Him but added, "nevertheless not My will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Like Christ we must also submit ourselves to God's will totally to obey Him. We must obey His commandments and seek His direction for our lives always no matter the consequence. This is the foremost thing that will qualify us to spend eternity with God in heaven as Jesus Christ said in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord', will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven". Jesus Christ always did the will of God and so must we do if we will be pleasing to God.

Another great example to follow is the close intimacy Jesus Christ had with God. He constantly communed with God, speaking to Him and also listening to Him. Jesus Christ habitually prayed and studied the word of God. As a child at twelve years of age, He was already discussing scripture with the priests and teachers at the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:42-47). At the end of fasting forty days and nights and praying in the wilderness, Satan came to tempt Him but Jesus Christ overcame all temptations responding with verses of the written word of God (Matthew 4:1-11). He was able to overcome Satan by choosing to obey what God had said. Would He have known what God had said if He never read the books written by inspiration of God by Moses and the prophets? Friend, you and I can overcome all of Satan's temptations if we know and obey God's word. Let us make it a priority to devote time to read and study the Holy Bible this year. It was the habit of our Lord Jesus Christ to take time off His busy schedules to be with God daily. There were times He had to sneak away from the crowd that always thronged Him requiring His ministration and He did so in order to have a time to fellowship with God through prayers (Luke 5:16, Luke 22: 39). Let us not neglect prayer and the study of the word of God because these are the means through which we have fellowship with God daily and become more and more like Him.

The life of our Lord Jesus Christ while He lived on earth was also characterized by a love for righteousness and a hatred for sin (Hebrews 1:9). Our Lord Jesus Christ though He was tempted to do wrong things and to break God's commandment as we also face today, yet He remained uncompromising. In Matthew chapter 4 we have a record of the temptations Satan presented to Jesus Christ. Satan appealed to the Lust of the eyes, the Lust of the flesh and the pride of life, but Jesus Christ consistently turned down all of Satan's offer though they came on a platter of gold. He would not give in to disobey God in order to satisfy His hunger. Friend, you may be tempted to steal something that is not yours, defraud your company, take a bribe or indulge in any other sinful acts to satisfy your want of money, food, clothes, and wealth, but remember that Jesus Christ refused to turn stones to bread to satisfy His hunger as Satan demanded. You may be offered a juicy employment package if only you agreed to engage in a sexual affair with the boss, but would you chose to reject that offer as Jesus Christ rejected Satan's offer of the kingdoms of the world if He only bowed to him? When you are tempted to treat others as being inferior on account of your higher academic qualifications, wealth or position at work or society, will you like Jesus Christ give glory to God by remaining humble rather than feed your ego? You can only overcome these and all other temptations if you love righteousness and hate iniquity. Note that if you actually love righteousness, you will stand for the truth when your parents, your pastor or Christian brothers and sisters are not with you, you will not only be acting holy because of just trying to protect your reputation but you will like Joseph bluntly turn down all sinful appeals with the words, "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:9). Our Lord Jesus Christ was reported to have gone around doing good works (Acts 10:38), hence, we must be like Him, standing out for good works wherever we may be. Do you know that even our Lord paid temple tax in other to obey the laws set by the temple government? Read Matthew 17:24-27. Do you love righteousness? Follow this example by abiding with the laws and decrees your government has set, inasmuch as they are not against the commandment of God. Do not be a tax evader or a law breaker.

Jesus Christ is also our perfect model of love, compassion and giving. Though He hates sin, yet He loves sinners with a great passion. He never cast off an offender, no matter how vile they had been. At one time, a woman was brought to Him who was caught in the act of adultery, and while her accusers were ready to stone this woman for death, Jesus Christ did not condemn her as they all expected but saved her from death and sent her home with the command, "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). He forgives sinners their sins out of a deep love and compassion. Ultimately, His love made Him lay down His life as a sacrifice to redeem all sinners who will realize their doom and earnestly call out to God for mercy. He took the punishments for our sins because of His great love for us. This then is the example we must follow to forgive those who offend us. If you have held a grudge against anyone or kept malice against anyone who has offended you, it is time to forgive as Jesus Christ forgave. Ask God to give you that love that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5-7). Therefore we must bear with one another, and forgive one another, if we have a complaint against someone, we must forgive them even as Christ forgave us. You will be able to forgive your wife or husband their offenses and drop that divorce suit you have already instituted in the court if you have the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. Friend, forgiveness is a test of love which we often fail, but let us follow the example of Jesus Christ and we shall be able to forgive out of deep love. Love and compassion made Jesus Christ to heal the sick (Matthew 14:14), to feed the hungry (Matthew 15:32), and deliver the oppressed (Mark 1:41). Friend, when we follow the example of love and compassion as our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us in the gospel, we will reach out to help the needy, to pray for the sick in the hospitals, to visit prisoners and cheer them with the good news of freedom in Jesus Christ. Our hearts will move to help the fatherless and the widows when we have the compassion and love of Jesus Christ in our hearts. We will not turn back the hungry brother or sister empty bellied when we have even so much to eat (James 2:15-16). We will give and share what God has blessed us with those who are in need when we follow the example of Jesus Christ as our perfect life model. Love and compassion will move us to preach the good news of salvation to the perishing all around us. Love and compassion will compel us to pray, to evangelize, and to do everything to try to win a soul who is bound for Hell. It was such love that brought rich and wealthy European missionaries like Mary Slessor, who came to the then dark continent of Africa, and they gave all they had, even their lives to bring us this good news of salvation we have today. Let us follow this example for love is God's greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). May we be more like Jesus Christ in love and compassion.

Friend, you and me can become more like Jesus Christ today, and it would be obvious to everyone that we have been transformed. It was in Athens, that people looked at the lifestyle of the followers of Christ and saw that they lived what they preached about Christ and so they called them Christians. Today it is regrettable that some people who identify as Christians have no resemblance of Jesus Christ in the way they live. I do not know about you my friend who is reading this message. Are you like Jesus Christ? You can become more like Him by conforming to His blessed image as we have seen, and that becomes if you make Him your life model. Today you have a chance to encounter His transforming power. He is able to turn sinners to saints. All you need to do is to come before Him in total repentance of your sins, and earnestly cry out to Him for mercy. Pledge yourself to God to be obedient to His will and commandments from this time to the end of your life. Invite the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Saviour of your life. If you do this, you will become a member of God's great family and you belong to God henceforth. We all need to make Jesus Christ our life model because He is the only perfect example we can follow. If Jesus Christ is your life-model, you can be sure you will get it right in your endeavours, in your career you will be an example of impeccable honesty and integrity, diligence and good social relationship, in your marriage, you will have a home of love and understanding that everyone will want to know your secret. I welcome you to follow the perfect life model, Jesus Christ and may you be blessed exceedingly as you do so.

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