Life and Godliness

Do you think you could devote a year to living like Jesus?  I know, in theory all of us who are Christians are supposed to be living like Jesus.  But I mean radically living like Jesus-trying to live exactly as Jesus would live.

That's how Ed Dobson spent 2008.  For an entire year this former megachurch pastor and founder of the religious right, who is now the vice president of spiritual formation for a Christian university in Michigan, tried his best to live like Jesus in every way.

It all started when Dobson read The Year of Living Biblically, a memoir by a man who purported to have no religious faith whatsoever but just wanted to see if he could follow all of the rules set out in the Bible.  Dobson thought that if someone with no faith could do it, then a person who claims to be a follower of Christ should be able to, as well.

Most media attention seems to the outward changes he made.  He stopped trimming his beard.  He ate only kosher foods.  (Dobson said that one of the things he was looking forward to the most in 2009 was ordering a chicken and cheese burrito.)  Once a strict teetotaler, he began to drink alcohol in moderation, especially if it gave him an opportunity to speak to people about Jesus.  He kept the Sabbath, only breaking it to attend his grandchildren's soccer games.

But Dobson says that none of those things were the hardest.  "The hard part is trying to live up to his teachings," Dobson said. "I've realized how far I fall short."  He reread the four Gospels every week (!).  Throughout the day he prayed, "Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner[*]."  He gave to the poor and visited those in prison.  Not because any of those things are easy, but they are things that Dobson saw Jesus do.

Oh by the way, he also has ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease.  This year of living like Jesus was one of the ways that he chose to respond to his illness.  He says that it put everything into perspective.  "I'm getting up every day not worried about what doesn't work; I'm getting up concerned about how do I live out this Jesus stuff."

We stand to learn a lot from Dr. Dobson.  I think he could teach us a lot about how God's Divine Power has given us everything we need.  Maybe not everything we want, but everything we need.  I'll say more about it in my message.

[*] Charles Honey, "Could You Live Like Jesus for a Year?"