Imitating Christ — As Paul Instructs
It is easy to quickly read a bible passage and miss the deeper meaning. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” But, there is so much more to the story. Paul’s letters urge Christians to be reflective learners, examining themselves. Asking, “Does my life emulate the life of a true disciple.” God judges not only our behaviour – whether we are following Jesus’ pattern of living – but our motivation. This is because God has called his disciples to be faithful stewards. Imitating Christ, they will observe that pattern of right living given by the Father, in both action and thought. So are we imitating Christ as we should?
The Gift Disciples are Given
Paul refers to the popular first century Jewish maxim, “Don’t go beyond what is written.” As a disciple of Christ and steward of God’s house he understood the value of the gift of God’s written word — the Hebrew scriptures. He also knew the warning to not add to or take away from the words of the Lord that were given through Moses. Paul taught that, having received the unmerited gift of knowledge from God, his servants needed to teach with humility. So as to avoid a divisive spirit that came from pride and self-promotion.
Children Emulate their Father
Just as young children “mimic” a parent, so God asks us to follow the positive example of Jesus Christ, patterning ourselves after the Father, as did Jesus. Paul admonishes that we should be imitators of God as beloved children. And the apostle John adds that imitating Christ is our spiritual “genetic” heritage, for the children share the nature of Christ and the Father. Peter confirms the importance of walking in obedience, following Christ’s example and imitating him — spotless and blameless in the eyes of the Father.
“Imitation of Christ” — the Counterfeit
The scriptures are clear in their instruction to live as Jesus lived. Imitating Christ, means leading a life of obedience to the law of God. All the biblical writers taught the value of being in the world, but not of the world. They did not go beyond what was written in scripture. Yet, from the early history of the Christian church there were those who taught a different message. So, it is not surprising that modernly those who have been immersed in the false message. This message continues to teach that a monastic life of piety and ritual is the way to “imitate Christ.” However, to those who value sola scriptura, this counterfeit message has no power. When you grasp the transformative power of of imitating Christ, you will embrace the reality.
Learn more about the God of the Bible and his purpose for you:
Nature of God Series
Christ Leads — Will We Follow