I had the great privilege of getting to know the late coach of the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry, while he served on the Dallas Theological Seminary board. Something that deeply impressed me about him was that in a profession led by predominately overweight coaches, many just one cheese fry away from a heart attack, Coach Landry looked like he could still suit up and play. Well into his sixties, he never asked his team to do anything he wasn’t willing to do.

In that way Coach Landry imitated Christ.

Jesus did in the Incarnation what He calls us to imitate on a much smaller scale. He left heaven’s glory and set his face toward the cross; now He expects us to put others’ interests before our own. He was mocked and spit on; therefore He expects His followers to pray for their enemies.

And there’s something else He did. Luke tells us He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

How are we to imitate Him in this task?

Lewis Sperry Chafer, in True Evangelism, wrote, “The work of seeking the lost, like the work of saving them, is, in reality, a divine undertaking. It is distinctly stated that the Son of Man came to seek. The burden of heart that can find no peace because of the lost condition of some individual,” Chafer wrote, “is the highest form of human suffering.”

Yet how do we effectively communicate to others what is so divine that the angels marvel at it? We begin by loving them. Love is the goal, the touchdown, and the end zone. Everyone “will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). Love gives our message credibility.

But we don’t stop with loving acts. We also invite and tell. How shall they hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:14)?

No matter how we seek to share the message of Christ this season—whether by singing carols in a nursing home, inviting neighbors in for a tree-trimming party, or sending gifts to orphans overseas—we must do so by the power of the Holy Spirit and the grueling work of practice before we ever step onto the playing field. Like Tom Landry, we must always be ready to suit up and play. And that includes daily demonstrations of love—like Christ.