I was a kid when Gatorade rolled out their iconic "I wanna be like Mike" advertising campaign. At the time the campaign was really on to something. Michael Jordan's popularity was off the charts. I mean how many basketball players ever star in their own, successful movies? And don't talk to me about Shaquille O'Neal starring in Kazaam either! Space Jam grossed over $230 million worldwide.* People didn't just like Mike. They didn't just want to watch him play basketball. They weren't just fans. They wanted to imitate him, to be like him.
This captures something that should be true of Christians as well. We shouldn't merely be fans of Jesus. Our devotion should go beyond that. We should want to be like Him. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells the believers at Corinth to "be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." This verse teaches that we are all called to imitate Christ, and to the extent that our leaders accurately reflect who He is, we are called to imitate them as well.
If that's true, if we are going to try to live life like Jesus, then what sort of things should we expect from ourselves? Jesus answers this question in one of the Bible's most haunting passages. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23-24 says, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." We follow a crucified Savior. A man who came not to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28). A Savior who though He was rich became poor so that our needs might be met. (2 Cor. 8:9) A deity who gave up the throne of heaven to become a servant of men.
So if we are going to really follow Him then that has to include self-sacrifice. Some believers follow Jesus all the way to a martyr's death, testifying to the truth even to their last breath as He did. For most of us that will not be the case. For us it means sacrificing our time, money, and desires to advance the kingdom of God. It's working at a soup kitchen. It's forgoing cable TV and designer clothes so we can give more money to missions, to feeding the poor, to caring for orphans and widows. It's volunteering at church. It's taking the time to pray for other people.
When was the last time you willingly sacrificed your comfort, your money, or your time for God? Now, pray and ask God what else He would have you sacrifice to advance His kingdom. Be like Jesus; make big sacrifices and grand gestures of your love for God.
*The Space Jam box office total figure came from this site: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=spacejam.htm