How confident are you about your Christian example? Probably not very and that is the reason we try to water it down. We say things like "I'm not perfect, only forgiven". We hear preachers saying "don't look at me, I will fail you. Look to Jesus". We make it sound good but often we are just using these things to cover up our failings. We are saying to people that we are failures as followers of Jesus and we are going to be satisfied in our failures. We should not be looking for excuses. We should be confessing our failures and looking to Jesus' strength and guidance to be exactly like him.
As long as we think it is okay to be "just human" we will never be able to step into the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ". If I fail in my love for my wife by losing my patience or speaking harsh words I don't turn and around and shrug my shoulders and say "oh well I'm not perfect." If I do I won't be married for long. No way. As soon as I realize what I have done I humbly apologize, ask for her forgiveness and shore up my determination to make sure she knows she is the most important person in my life. My goal in my relationship with her is to walk as one and this means that our love must be defined by God's love. I am determined that she will know every day that I love her by my words and actions. That is what our attitude should be like every day with Jesus.
We cannot be content in our failure to walk like Jesus by shrugging our shoulders and saying "I'm only human". First of all, you are not "only human", you have been re-born, you are a new creation and you have been empowered to be exactly like Jesus. Don't excuse your lack of love or your laziness with cute little phrases that are not true. Step up to the bat and dare to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Instead of hiding behind imperfection get out on the training field and allow the Holy Spirit to build you up in Jesus. You are not merely a "man", you are a powerful supernatural creation because of Jesus' power in you. So stop acting human.
Can you imagine telling people to follow your example? Often we say by our actions, especially preachers, "It's my words that are important not what I do. I am only human. Forgiven not perfected." But that is not what the Word says. James wrote:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22)
In fact, James states that this is how we will have a blessed life:
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
I like that image of staring intently into the perfect Word of God. So confident is Paul of God's ability to change and preserve us that he states without flinching something you and I are afraid to say:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
His example of what? He states just before this:
Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:32-33)
His example of love. Paul is saying follow his example of love as he follows the example of Christ's love. He writes this not because he is pious but because he has confidence in Jesus' ability to change him to be just like Jesus.
When we cite our imperfections and our humanness what we are really saying is that we do not have confidence in God's promises or his power to change us and that we really don't believe the things we profess as truth. How can we say to the drug addict "Come to Jesus, he has the power to make you new" and then turn around and say "Jesus is not strong enough to change me"? Look to Jesus, we say, but don't look at the mess of my life. No wonder people turn around and tell us to fix our own life first before we try telling them what to do.
No, enough is enough. If we are followers of Jesus people should be able to see it in the way we love, in the manner in which we speak, in how we handle stressful situations, in our priorities, in our faithfulness, in our willingness to suffer anything to honour the name of Jesus. Every time we complain against someone we tear down the name of Jesus. Every time vulgarity comes out of our mouth we are taking away from his glory. Every time we fail in love, kindness, patience, compassion, grace, mercy, tenderness, joy, we take away from Jesus. Every time we allow circumstances to become greater than the joy he has given to us we are failing him. But I am better than this because Jesus is more powerful than this in me.
We need to stop making excuses, stop hiding behind imperfection, stop talking and doing different things. We need to step out in the confidence of Jesus' power to change and strengthen us. We need to apologize for being less than what he has called us to, stare intently into his perfect Word, cast off the things that tangle us and hold us back, and then press on in the holiness he declared over us. Let's live our lives to glorify Jesus, in his strength and power, with the confidence to say to others "Follow my example as I follow the example of Jesus."