“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
(1 Corinthians 4:16)
That’s a simple verse, at least to write. It’s a really challenging verse to live. To say. And think about the audacity here. Boldness. For Paul to say to these Christians in Corinth, “I urge you to imitate me.” That’s pretty bold, isn’t it? To say to somebody else, “Do what I do. Live like I live. Talk like I talk. Love like I love. Imitate me.” And this isn’t the only time that Paul will say this in First Corinthians, but this is the heart of disciple making. This is the heart of gospel ministry. This is the heart of loving others is to live around others in such a way that if people are following you, they will be following Jesus. That if people are living like you’re living, it will be good for them.
Others should be able to imitate our lives and by imitating us, experience lives that cling to Christ. Lord, help us to live in a way that can be imitated by others for the glory of Christ.
Obviously, Paul was not perfect and none of us is perfect. So really, only Jesus is worthy of our imitation in this way but that’s kind of the point of when he says this in First Corinthians, chapter 11, verse one. He says, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” Paul is saying, “I’m following Christ and so, follow my lead and we’ll be pressing in to Christ. We’re becoming more and more like Christ.” And this is how we should live!
We’ve talked about this in previous verses because Paul sees himself as a spiritual parent to these Christians at Corinth. They’re like his spiritual children. I think about my kids. Like, yes, I want to say to them, “Imitate me.” Obviously, again, I’m not perfect but I want to live a life in front of them that they want to imitate; that will be good for them if they imitate. And so, that’s part of our responsibility as a parent; to show them how to live, show them an exemplarily life. This is part of my responsibility as a pastor. That’s the whole part in First Timothy, chapter three, Titus, chapter one. Qualifications for pastors, they’re to be examples of Christ such that the church would say, “Okay, if I follow that person, I’ll be looking more and more like Jesus.”
Now, I need God’s grace to do that. Wow, I need God’s grace. I could spend the next hour right now just praying in light of that responsibility. But that’s kind of the point that I want to encourage with. Not just parents, not just pastors, but followers of Christ. We’re intended to live in such a way that we are pointing people to Christ with our lives. Our live are worthy of imitation. That’s what making disciples is all about. We’re making disciples of Jesus who, when they look at our lives, they’re becoming more like Jesus. When they listen to our words, they’re learning the words of Jesus. That what it means to make disciples.
So God, we pray to you to help us to live like First Timothy, chapter four, verse 16 kind of lives such that we’re saying to one another in the church, “Imitate me and you’ll be imitating Christ.” God, help us to live like that. Change our thoughts, our desires, our words, our actions, our lives so that we are worthy of imitation. We pray for this in your church, we pray for this in our homes, we pray for this in the world around us that we would say to unbelievers, “the path I’m on is a good path. It leads to life. I’m not perfect. I’m not perfect but Jesus is. I’m following him. Follow me and we’ll be following Christ together.” God, help us to live like this. Help us to take up this responsibility as followers of Jesus, as disciple makers, as parents, as spiritual parents, as pastors. God, please help us to live lives. I want to live a life. I pray for everybody’s listening to this. Help us to live a life worthy of imitation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.