Whom Do I Want to Be Like?

30 10 2010

BY RICHARD JAMES, Council of Twelve Apostles

I remember little about my baptism, but I know it was on my eighth birthday.

I vividly remember the birthday present I received from my sister and brother-in-law: a soccer ball. It was a great present. But I also remember feeling I wanted to be like Jesus and do the things he did. It was this desire at 8 years old to be a disciple of Jesus Christ that has shaped my life and enabled me to make responsible choices.

My father was a coal miner and worked alternating shifts of days, afternoons, and nights. Some days I did not see him. It was hard physical labor. He would come home straight from the coal pit, and then we would visit church members and friends.

Many people came to know Community of Christ because of his testimony and commitment. For me he is an outstanding example of humble, grace-filled servant ministry.

As a child I used to wear the knee pads my father wore underground in the coal mine. I would go into our coal shed and pretend I was my dad, working and digging out the coal. I wanted to be like him.

I remember when I was 10 or 11 going on a school visit to a safari park. Our family did not have much money, and I can see my mother now emptying her wallet into my hands, giving me everything she had so I could go on this school visit. 

It was not much—just a few coins with little value. But because she loved me, she willingly sacrificed her last few coins. She loved and cared for me so much that she gave everything. Her nature was to be generous with everything. Though we had little, she always gave, and we always had enough. I wanted to be like her.

I ask myself now, whom do I want to be like? I want to be like Jesus. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? I want to imitate him, to be humble and full of grace, and to be generous by nature. Giving and receiving is what it means to be a disciple. Would I empty my wallet because I love and care so much for the mission of Jesus Christ?

My parents taught me well!



5 responses

1 11 2010
Margie Miller

If we really want to be like Jesus, we will work in every way possible to change the world in which we live. That’s what he did. He was a great example to his followers. He treated everyone the same. He brought some sort of ministry to everyone me met.

That’s our challenge.

31 10 2010

I am also a coal miner’s child. Althought I grew up as a Southern Baptist, my parents were devoted Christians who lived their faith and raised us to live and spread love and peace. We were poor in material things but rich in the teaching that help me today. Thank you for helping me remember again how blessed I have been and how blessed I am.

31 10 2010
William L. Raiser

The difficulty I find lies in determining what Jesus would do in our world today. How would he deal with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and menacing in Yemen and Iran? With Palestine-Israel or Israel-Palestine? With the gross inequalities in income distribution in the US, other developed countries and between the developed and developing countries? With the ridiculous aspects of much of the election campaigns in the US? With the way we quickly forget Haitians, Pakistanis and those in New Orleans? With our lack of concern for the health care of others? With our continuing support of capital punishment? With the overflowing American prisons? ……

I have difficulty working out appropriate responses to life in today’s world from my studies of the scriptures.

31 10 2010
Leigh Anne

To be honest, as I read the scriptures, I don’t see Jesus dealing much with the issue of war. I saw a focus on ministering and making a difference with those he actually came into contact with. Then they contacted and ministered to others, who contacted and ministered to others who…..ended up making a difference all over the world…even though he himself traveled less than a couple hundred miles from where his ministry began.

I fear sometimes we spread our time, talent and treasure so widely and thinly that we end up not making a REAL impact on anyone. We stop, say a sermon, give and few prayers and move on without REALLY getting to know people, their real inner self, or taking time to deeply minister to them.

30 10 2010
Marvin Kleinau

I still have on my desk a small wooden cross carved by a very poor but humble man from a small church in Wales. The cross was given to me by Claire James at a meeting of participants in a leadership conference in Independence, many years ago. Ironically I gave Claire a piece of coal cared in the shape of a steam engine. As with Brother Richard, I live in a coal mining area of southern Illinois and since most of the mines are closed, it takes more than just a little courage and humility to face a world filled with things. That cross has never left my desk because I recognized at the moment I received it, that this piece of wood, like the few coins in this message, represented love in the only way the giver could offer it.

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