Jan. 4, 2009 -- It's one thing to follow the teachings of Jesus, but it's another thing to try to eat like him, talk like him, look like him, even vote like him.
After reading the book "A Year of Living Biblically," by A.J. Jacobs, former pastor Ed Dobson decided to devote a year trying to live as Jesus did, based on what is written about him in the Bible and other historical documents.
"I read that book a little over a year ago, and I thought, well, if a secular Jew could do this, certainly a follower of Jesus could," Dobson said today on "Good Morning America Weekend."
Dobson, the vice president of spiritual formation at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich., said he did not shave, ate kosher, observed the Sabbath and read through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John every week.
He even had a couple of beers along the way. "I would often go down to the bar, sit up at the counter, drink a beer and talk about God, which Jesus was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard," he said.
The most difficult part of the challenge, Dobson said, was obeying Jesus' teachings, particularly the idea of blessing the people who persecute you.
"My youngest son did two tours in Iraq, and on the last tour, a friend of his was killed in action and my wife and I went for the visitation and I was overwhelmed with grief and also with anger for the people who had made the roadside bomb, planted it and detonated it," he said. "And then I finally realized I had to pray for them and bless them, which is very, very hard to do."
Dobson even voted in the presidential race as he thought Jesus would. Dobson pulled the lever for Barack Obama, saying it was the first time he ever voted for a Democrat.
"I decided since I had read through the gospels at that point over 30 times, I wanted to know who best represented the fundamental teachings of Jesus, and I felt that he more than any other candidate represented the teachings of Jesus, so I voted for him," Dobson said.
Dobson's message to others heading into the new year is to start reading the Bible, which he acknowledged can be demanding.
"I would encourage people, whether you've ever read the Bible or not, begin reading the Bible, and just listen to what God has to say."