Living with Purpose: A Life Modeled after Jesus

By: Abbie Hoekstra-Nold

"You get one life – how will you live it?"

This question isn’t merely existential but deeply spiritual, beckoning us to ponder the purpose and significance of our existence. For Christians, the answer lies in the profound call to follow Jesus and become more like Him.

It’s a journey illuminated by those who have walked before us - those who we look to as mentors and contributors to the faith because they exemplify an unwavering commitment to follow Jesus and live as He did.

In a culture that often prioritizes individualism and self-gratification, these examples remind us that true fulfillment is found not in the pursuit of prestige or popularity but in the radical call to leave the world behind and follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

The essence of the Christian life lies in becoming more like Jesus and participating in the redemptive work of the Kingdom of God. As the apostle Paul exhorts in Ephesians 5:1-2, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

To live in imitation of Jesus is to embrace a radical and countercultural way of living—a way marked by selflessness, sacrificial love, service and purpose. It is to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbors as ourselves, extending grace, mercy and forgiveness to all. In short, by prioritizing eternal values over temporal pursuits, we are imitating Jesus.

And as we fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, we are transformed completely, becoming vessels of His grace and instruments of His peace in a world desperately in need of hope and healing. Ultimately, as we embrace the call to follow Him, we become agents of change and bearers of light in a darkened world.

The beauty of this is that you and I can be just like these examples I’ve listed with your neighbor down the street, your coworkers, the people we see at restaurants and coffee shops, or the ones packing our groceries at Trader Joe’s. None of these examples were seeking to make their name great, but to make GOD’S name great. In fact, I bet Mother Teresa would be perfectly fine if no one ever knew who she was or what she did.

The reality is that the vast majority of people that are doing things like those listed above are people whose names we will never know! But that’s not the point - the point isn’t for our names to be known, it’s for God’s name to be known. And we do that by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God. We do this by looking at Jesus’ life and choosing to do as He did.

In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." To follow Jesus is to die to self, to relinquish our own agendas and ambitions, and to surrender our lives entirely to the will of God. It is a journey marked by grace, as we stumble and falter, yet are continually embraced by the unmerited love of God. Good thing for us, the call to follow Jesus is not a solitary journey but a communal one - one we are on together in faith, accountability and mutual encouragement toward becoming more like Jesus.

What I’m getting at is this: the question of how to live your one life finds its most meaningful answer in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself declared, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) - He is the embodiment of God's love and the ultimate example of what it means to live with purpose and significance.

So let me ask again: you get one life – how will you live it?