Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV)
As Christians, do we really live our lives according to the commands laid down by Jesus Christ and His apostles? I know that we like to think that we do, but as humans we’re prone to fall short or miss the mark.
This little verse popped out at me today, a line that begins the eleventh chapter of the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, but could easily serve as the last verse in the tenth chapter. You see, the chapter and verse delineations you find when reading the Bible today weren’t part of the original text. To make reading the Bible easier, chapters and verses were added later, as were footnotes and other editorial marks.
Paul’s words here are profound in that he is encouraging believers to imitate him. With confidence he could instruct them to do so because Paul was faithfully imitating Christ. If he wasn’t, then his words would at the very least be vanity, but at their worst they could be dangerous.
I’ve come across a handful of spiritual people down through the years who wanted me (and others) to imitate them. No, they may not have used those specific words, but they strongly suggested that by not following their example that you’d risk falling out of the way. A closer examination of the behavior of these people revealed that they did not imitate Christ. Sure, they may have expressed some sort of Biblical authority or made pronouncements of spirituality, but their behavior was contrary to Christ’s teachings.
Importantly, in chapter ten Paul explains (v.3,4) to the Corinthian church their heritage through Moses. Their spiritual forefathers had passed through the sea, ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. That drink came from a spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Christ.
Later, Paul told the Corinthians (v.5-10) how God wasn’t pleased with most of them who chose to become idolaters and were thus destroyed. By verse 14 Paul addressed the Corinthians by urging them to also flee from idolatry. Though the Corinthian believers had been saved from the wrath to come, they still needed to be instructed on how to walk with Paul admonishing them on taking communion (v.16-22), eating (v.25, 31), and the way to treat others (v.32) particularly with winning them to Christ (v.33). Paul concluded that section of his letter by urging believers to imitate him as he imitated Christ.
The universal church of Jesus Christ today is filled with people who have no idea on how they should live. Reared in homes with no Christian witness, many people are clueless how they should behave — they’re saved, but they haven’t been instructed (discipled).
Like Paul, who had a lot to teach the Corinthian church of his day, we have the opportunity to impact fellow believers through our witness. Not just the witness of scripture, but through the example of our personal walk with our Savior.
Ephesians 5:15,16 offers great advice for the person who wants to lead by example, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
As in Pauls day imitators of Christ are still needed — are you up to the challenge?
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