So I was reading in 1 Corinthian about an hour ago and something really jumped out at me.
(Disclaimer: This idea may not be a fully developed as they usually are when I write them. I usually wait for a few days to write about something, but this one I just feel like I need to write it now.)
OK, back to what I read . . . Paul had this to say in 1 Corinthians 4:16
"Therefore I urge you to imitate me."
I read that verse and just stopped there today. I couldn't go any further. I started thinking about it and what Paul was actually saying in this verse.
First off, context of this verse: Just a few verses before, Paul is talking about how he is a fool for Christ, and he is telling the Corinthian church about his mistreatment to warn them about trouble or persecution that may be coming to them. The Corinthian church was a mixed up church. From the letters in Scripture we know that they caused Paul a lot of anguish and he had much to say to them. In the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul is reminding them that they follow Christ, not whatever preacher brought them the message of salvation that they responded to.
OK . . . that's the context . . . now on to Paul's words here. Paul is telling the Corinthian church to imitate him. He wasn't doing this because he was perfect or knew it all - he was very aware of his own sinful nature. But, he devoted his life to pursuing God with everything he had. He was calling the people to imitate the aspects of his beliefs and conduct that were modelling Christ's way of living. And, I mean, it makes sense . . . how much easier do we find it to imitate someone whose lifestyle we can see?
The part of this that really challenged me was when I started thinking about it in my own life. As someone who is involved in leadership in church ministries, could I tell other people that they can imitate aspects of my life? That's not an easy question to ask. It made me take a good look at my life - about how I live day-to-day. It's a bit sobering to do that, because you see things that you maybe don't like about how you do live day-to-day. But, it's good to do . . . especially when you're someone in leadership of any kind.
The more I thought about my own life (and the longer I write on this blog), the more I realized that I could get the externals for people to imitate down to an art, without it having any impact on the internal of my life. Going through the motions really isn't that hard - especially when you've grown up in the church. But, I don't think that was what Paul was talking about in these verses. Paul wasn't just talking about the externals in his life that they should imitate, although that was definitely included, he was calling for the Corinthian church to imitate his whole-hearted pursuit of God - no matter what God brought their way.
That's the kind of life I want to live. In many ways, I want to imitate those parts of Paul's life. And I hope that others can do the same with my life.
Lord, I pray that you would give all of us a passion to live lives that other people can learn from and imitate. Give us a passion to pursue You with everything we have, no matter the circumstances. Amen.