OK. So you hear the words of the apostle Paul when he says, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) and you wonder, “Do those words apply to me?”
The answer is yes.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all called to lead others into a growing relationship with Him. To be a Christian is much more than just giving yourself a label, or attending worship services or mass regularly. To be a Christian is to have personal relationship with the God of the universe through His Son Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to realize that Jesus died as a sacrifice for your sins, and that through His grace you can have forgiveness, cleansing, a new heart, eternal life. To be a Christian is to be changed from the inside out, knowing that God is teaching you to be more and more like Jesus in every way. To be a Christian means that you now have a desire to learn about Christ, to live for Christ, to tell others about Christ.
When you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have a desire to be like Jesus in every way: to think like He would think, to do what He would do, to talk like He would talk, to love people the way He loved them, to serve people the way He served them, to tell people that salvation is available to all who will believe in Him. You mimic Him, you imitate Him, you follow Him in every way.
Notice these words from Matthew 28:
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Notice the phrase that says, “teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.” That kind of teaching comes as one person invests time and energy into building a friendship and mentor relationship with another person.
That kind of teaching can happen anywhere:
- over a cup of coffee
- in a Bible study setting
- on a trip
- driving down the road
- in the back yard throwing a football
- having dinner at your home
- on the phone
- through social media
- with a text message or Facetime chat
- taking a walk together at the park
- In a hundred other ways
Some of you are parents and grandparents. And you realize that you have a responsibility to influence your children and grandchildren. But God is calling you to have an impact broader than just your own family.
Some of you are great at teaching and coaching others in a variety of ways: hunting, fishing, cooking, yard work, working on cars, shopping, cleaning, throwing a ball, music, art, crafts. But are you investing in people spiritually, teaching them to walk with Christ?
Paul’s words — “imitate me” — are not arrogant words. He’s NOT saying, “Look at me! I’m perfect!” Paul knew he was far from perfect. He knew that he was still a work in progress. He knew he was saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and he also knew that he needed to daily give himself to the Lord as a living sacrifice, submitting his desires, behaviors, words and thoughts to the Lord so that he would be right in the center of God’s will.
Paul’s words are words of accountability, responsibility, and direction. He knew he is accountable to the Lord for his thoughts, words and actions. He knew he was responsible for leading others to walk with Jesus. And he knew that the direction of his life must include investing in the lives of others, passing on the faith to the next generation.
Notice that Paul’s words point us immediately to Jesus. Paul says, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” Jesus is the standard. Jesus is perfect. Paul’s words remind us that we are on a journey of faith, walking with Jesus every day.
Personal spiritual growth happens in a variety of ways, including:
- Reading the Bible (check out YouVersion for Bible reading plans)
- Small groups with other believers (a list of the small groups from our church is HERE)
- Conversations with Christian friends
- Learning from Bible teachers & pastors
- Serving in ministries and missions
Put Paul’s words into action. As a follower of Jesus Christ, let me encourage you to continue to grow spiritually. Take a look at the list above, and commit to personal spiritual growth. Also, let me encourage you to invest in the lives of others, particularly those who are younger than you or those who are younger than you in the faith.
Would you ask yourself these questions:
- “Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?”
- “Is my life a life worth imitating?”
- “Who am I investing in?”
- “What changes do I need to make?”
I am praying that all who read this will respond with faith and obedience to what God is leading them to do. If I can help you in any way, please let me know.