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Imitating Christ

 

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. (1 Peter 2:21) “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1) Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example. (Phil 3:17) “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Jesus stated many times that He came as an example and the New Testament uses some tense of the phrase “follow me”, “follow Him” or “followers of Christ.” The word “followers” can be traced back to the Greek word “mimos” which means “to imitate.” From the word “mimos”, we can easily see from where the English word “mimic” is derived.

Scripture is loaded with examples revealing how and what one must do in order to be an imitator of Christ. Love your enemies. Forgive those who have sinned against you. Heal the sick. Make disciples. Visit the infirmed and feed the hungry.

Sometimes we have a feeling that the job should be left for someone more qualified to do and that it is not for us. Whether it is preaching, reaching out or attending to the needy, some Christians feel disqualified. But we know that Christ strengthens us (Phil4:13) just as the apostles who were unlearned were able to speak with boldness and clarity.

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).

When Jesus said, “come follow me,” he called men from vastly different backgrounds. None of these men identified with the top echelons of society or the political and religious elites. Peter was a fisherman; Matthew a tax collector, one of those men in a profession hated by everyone.

When the Scribes and Pharisees heard the apostles spoke with boldness and conviction, they soon discovered the reason for this boldness. It was not a result of their vast education, for Peter and John had no education except in the craft of fishing and seafaring. Their boldness was not from the self-sufficiency of knowledge but from God. Today we observe our leaders without formal lessons in the bible but displaying similar zeal and boldness when preaching Christ. Some have attended short lectures but much of their knowledge comes from self-study and personal research.

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. …written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we professed to be; if the Spirit of the Lord were in the heart of all his children, as we could desire; and if we were all possessors of that vital grace, we should be pictures of Christ, that the world would exclaim, “He has been taught of him; he is like him; and he expands it out into his very life and every day actions...”

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)

The “smell” some people ever have of Jesus is the “smell” our faith, godliness, and compassion produce. If we are a bad spiritual odor, that odour will make Jesus “stink” to some people. If we are a godly aroma or fragrance, that aroma will be a sweet smelling memory. Someday that aroma may bring them to life’s saving fragrance, Jesus.

Smell evokes a memory response. The next time you smell something familiar, try to recall what is the very first thing which pops into your mind. Does that smell evoke a memorable (pleasant or unpleasant) event that happened in the past?

What does God think of when He smells us? Do we smell like sin and death which remind God of rebellious Satan? Or do we smell like Christ and cause God to remember His precious Son? (Ephesians 5:2.)

The Christian life should be characterized by the virtues taught in the Word of God. Such was the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. During His tenure on this earth, He exemplified the love of God, and by His own example, faced the same difficulties of life which we face (yet to a far more intense degree, Heb.4:15). He gave us a pattern to model ourselves after, by which if we should follow, along the straight road will lead us to a victorious life, well-pleasing to God (1Pet.2:21-25; cf. Matt.16:24; Jn.13:15).

We are commanded to love one another as He has loved us, and He lay down His life for us. Jn 15:12-13. Loving one another is easier said than done. Often we have certain values, prejudices and responses. Some people are easily liked whereas others have a way of putting us off. The command of love is across nationalities, colour and background. Some of us have this inhibition to approach others that we are not familiar with, perhaps because of shyness. Then there is the lack of flair in starting a conversation. We hide behind our own reluctance and go about being busy with other things like chatting with brethren. Love means that we make others feel welcome. We emphatise with their plight if they are suffering and assist in any way we can. Jesus asked us to provide food and water for our enemies. The preaching of Christ and the apostles contains lots of instructions on the importance of love and the displaying of such character. Jesus as an example showed that he loved us so much that he gave his life for us. How do we express our love for brethren and others? Do we respond positively when others ask for help eg. a sister needs you to take over her bible class, or a preacher needs transport to the airport, or a visiting brethren needs accommodation in a home? Who will be the first to be asked to render some help? Do you think that you will ever be asked?

This topic encourages all of us irrespective of our standing and training to be brave and to venture outside our comfort zone. Sometimes, we need to be pushed. Other times we need to be reminded or reprimanded. The best is for us to challenge ourselves when the odds are against us to do better. Christ did not only instruct, he gave us many examples and he led the way.

So, where is it that we should be imitators of Christ? Everywhere, in the workplace, in the homeplace, in the schoolplace, in the locker room, in the restaurant, etc. Live the life of Christ and make a public spectacle of the love affair we are having with God! Jesus said, “When they’ve seen Me they’ve seen the Father,” we can say, “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.”

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