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The Grace to Follow in Jesus’ Footsteps

Be compassionate, kind, and empathetic like Mister Rogers and most of all, like Jesus.

Fred Rogers with X the Owl and Henrietta Pussycat; Wikimedia Commons

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (NIV)

Fred Rogers, the beloved creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is one of my heroes. I love his soothing voice, his compassion for children, and his godly wisdom. So when the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood came out, my husband, Kevin, bought two tickets for the first showing on opening day.

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My favorite scene takes place in a Chinese restaurant. The main character, Lloyd Vogel, tells Mr. Rogers—played by Tom Hanks—that he knows why Fred loves people like him: “Because we’re so broken.” In a voice rich with kindness, Mr. Rogers replies, “I don’t think you’re broken.” I wanted to stand up and cheer. Right there in the second row.

As we left the theater, I started to make an inner commitment to emulate Mr. Roger’s Christlike behavior. But the Lord interrupted my thoughts. “No,” He said. “I want you to be the unique individual I created you to be, and I want you to follow Jesus. He is the only one worthy of worship.”

I had to smile and agree. If I copy the attitudes and behaviors of any human, no matter how noble he or she is, I’m settling for second best. When I study how Jesus loved, forgave, and helped, I’m choosing to follow the best example of God’s heart.

I can still be compassionate, kind, and empathetic. Like Fred. And most of all, like Jesus.

Faith Step: On a 3 x 5 card, list all the character traits of Jesus that you admire. Now circle the one you’d most like to pattern your life after. Ask God to give you the grace to follow in Jesus’s footsteps.

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