And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. — 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)
Paul said to imitate him. How many times have I read this verse and waltzed right over it? I have never heard another Christian say “be like me.” Until now, I would have never thought to say such a thing. The more I think about it, if I live every single day that I might imitate Christ and bring glory and honor to His Name, what is wrong with saying such a thing?
Someone once told me that Christianity is more “caught” than taught. There are people sitting in church every Sunday that know a lot about Christianity. They know lots of scriptures and could even present the Gospel to anyone that cared to hear. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people actually living out what they know. The people who were the most influential to my spiritual life didn’t just know a bunch of stuff, they DID the stuff and applied what they knew to everyday life. They were different. When I saw them, I wanted to be like them. I wanted to imitate them. Imitating them helped me learn to imitate Christ.
I was once told that I could live however I wanted as long as I “believed” in Jesus. This person believed that salvation came in the simple knowledge of the fact that Jesus did in fact exist and did in fact die on a cross. Now, let’s set aside the fact that the Bible says that even demons believe this and it does them no good. I equate this with working out and being in shape. I have gotten out of shape pretty bad. Now, I knew the whole time that I needed to be exercising, burning more calories than I consume, and making better choices when I eat. Knowing that did not help my gut shrink one bit. The fact is, if I don’t actually do the things I know to do, I could very easily “let myself go” and be very unhealthy. Christianity is similar. If we don’t actually do the stuff we know to do, what good is it doing?
I love to see my little boy come into the room when I am working out and start imitating me. When I hit golf balls in my yard, sometimes he will grab a club and imitate me. Sometimes he will get up early in the morning and come into the living room where I am praying and studying the Bible. He will say “Dad, let’s read a Bible story.” I usually ask him which one he’d like to read and he says “Sampson carrying the gate” or “Daniel and the Lions.” We will just sit there together for a little while, talk about the story and end in prayer. Days like that make me want to keep imitating Christ to the best of my ability. I want to be more like Jesus because my little boy wants to be like me. I want to live a life worth imitating.
Now that I am the pastor of a church, I want to live a life that the men of my church want to imitate. They need to see that my heart is ablaze for God and want the fire for themselves. They need to see me humble myself at the altar. They need to see that I am absolutely in love with God and that He is my one true source of life. They need to see that when I start drifting back towards the world and its ways that I fight with everything that I have to regain that intimacy with God that I once knew. They need to see that there is nothing more important to me than loving The Lord.
I am also a math teacher in the school system. I want to live a life that my students want to imitate. They need to hear that I am excited about going on a date with my wife of 12 years. They need to hear that I am looking forward to just hanging out with my children on the weekend. They need to hear that I enjoy coming into the school and trying my best to help them get where they want to be in the future. They need to know that I genuinely care about them and want the best for them. They need to know that the abundant, drama-free life is possible. They don’t need me talking down to them and condemning them. They need to see me actually do the things I say I will do and also see me ask for forgiveness when I don’t. They need to see me being the best Christ follower I can be.
Lord, help me imitate you. Place in the heart of others who are far from you the desire to imitate me.