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Text: I Corinthians 11:1
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I Corinthians 11:1 ESV
I had an imitation game that I played as a child growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland. I would often take a wiffle ball bat into the backyard of my grandmother’s house at 817 Geis Circle, and emulate the batting stance of every player on the Baltimore Orioles major league baseball team: from Al Bumbry, to Ken Singleton, to Cal Ripken, to Eddie Murray. These were my childhood heroes and I became a better baseball player by imitating their game.
Paul’s pragmatic approach to discipleship can be found in a simple and uncomplicated statement: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” One translation reads, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Paul knew that discipleship involved imitating Jesus. He also knew that believers needed living examples, and he was willing to be such an example. In his letter to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul wrote:
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12
Many people today are quick to say, “Don’t look at me, look at Jesus.” While it is true we must all look to Jesus as the ultimate Author and Finisher of our faith, every follower of Jesus should also strive to become a living example of what it looks like to imitate Jesus. His readers would’ve understood that it was not “Paul” who was a worthy example, but “Paul the imitator of Jesus” who was to be the example.
In other words, Paul is saying, “Imitate me as you see me imitating Jesus.”
The idea of being imitators of godly examples is consistent with Paul’s letters to other believers in Philippi and Thessalonica (Philippians 3:17, Philippians 4:9, II Thessalonians 3:7-9). Paul seemed confident that there was something in his pursuit of Jesus that was worth modeling and imitating. This doesn’t mean that he was perfect by any means.
The man who led me to Christ also became a longtime spiritual father in my life before going home to be with the Lord a few years back. Like all of us, Brother Woody had his share of flaws, but there were a great many aspects of his life that I have been able to imitate in fleshing out my faith because of the powerful living example that he modeled for others and me.
The million-dollar question we must all ask is: If someone follows you will they end up at Jesus? Despite his human weaknesses, Brother Woody was such an effective disciple-maker because as people followed him they always ended up at Jesus.
Think about that, Christ-follower, as you seek to abide in Him this week.
Father, we can’t be perfect. But we should all strive to imitate Jesus. We should also not be afraid to invite others to follow us as we seek to follow Him. Help us Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live out our faith with such devotion that it truly is worth imitating by others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Paul believed that his life in Christ was worth imitating. If someone follows you, will they end up at Jesus? Tweet this
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- Who have you grown up imitating, intentionally or unintentionally?
- When have you ended up at Jesus by following the example of one of His followers?
- What in your life is worth imitating?
- Where have you been a poor example of imitating Jesus? Be honest, and consider a time of confession and repentance.
- Is there someone in your daily path God may want you to be more intentional about sharing Christ with?
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