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A warning to guard against copying other Christians

Posted by on Jun 6, 2012 in blog links | 16 comments

A warning to guard against copying other Christians

Jeremy at “Till He Comes” has written a very good post called “Stop Christian Cloning.” His post is not about DNA, or gene splicing, or Star Wars, or lambs named Dolly.

Instead, Jeremy is writing about one Christian copying what another Christian does or, more particularly, one church copying what another church does.

At one point, he writes:

As we seek to gain the wise counsel and guidance from other Christians, we must be on guard against copying other Christians.

It sometimes seems that Christians and churches spend more time and energy following certain church leaders and churches than they do in actually following Jesus. While Jesus will lead many of us down similar roads, He will also lead different people and different church down completely unique and diverse roads that have never before been travelled.

I agree with Jeremy, and I can also see that this kind of “copying” has caused problems, both on the personal and group levels.

But, we do have to consider Paul’s exhortation, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) Also, consider 1 Corinthians 4:16, Philippians 3:17, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 2:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, Hebrews 6:12, Hebrews 13:7, and 3 John 11.

So, what’s the difference between “cloning Christians” (per Jeremy’s warning) and imitating others as referred to by the authors of Scripture?


16 Comments

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  1. 6-6-2012

    Well alan it starts out imitating others as we see them doing what is told we are to be doing, imitation never works out when it comes to the end of our own flesh. when we do come to the end of our own imitating seeing we can’t then God shows us it never was an imitation, but before we can see this for ourselves we can never become a particapant in christ. the Christ life is being a participant in him not an imitetor for flesh can only get at it’s best 9 out of ten laws down, and is still short, but Christ got it all down and in Christ you have all.
    So i became a participator and a responder to God through Christ, yet I have iniquities to keep me humble, for in my weakness God’s strength is made perfect, and in Christ I am viewed from God as Perfect, thanks be to Christ.
    Howard

  2. 6-6-2012

    Howard,

    When Paul (and the other authors of Scripture) wrote, “Imitate me” or “Imitate us,” I don’t think they were talking about imitating “the flesh.” However, we can’t just ignore the fact that they did write, “Imitate me.”

    -Alan

  3. 6-6-2012

    Tell me Alan what are you saying. Please be direct, what you wrote sounds offensive, so i really want to know is this meant to to be snide as it reads
    Howard

  4. 6-6-2012

    Howard,

    I did not intend for my comment to be snide or offensive. In your comment, you talked about imitating the flesh, but I don’t think that’s the way Paul or the other authors of Scripture intended it when they wrote, “Imitate me.” So, if they didn’t mean, “Imitate me in the flesh,” then what did they mean?

    -Alan

  5. 6-6-2012

    Thanks Alan it still boils down to either of flesh or Spirit (born again),and thank you, I am definately growing some more. You somehow always cause me to seek out truth.

    2 Thess 3:6-15 the imitating was for the ones that were not working about them being busybodies, and they were exhorted to imitate the apostles how they worked night and day. For Alan even today there are unreasonable men and without Faith. So what they meant was there are those still of the flesh exhorting the ones that believe. So here goes it again be wise as a serphant and harmless as a dove yet have nothing to do with those that are not of the Faith. A bad tree can not produce good fruit. So imitate us, meant work be free from beiing burdensome to any man
    Howard

  6. 6-6-2012

    “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”.

    Now, take out the 4 middle words, leaving the first and last. We will also see the reason people of The Way were called “Christians” at Antioch. Paul encouraged his readers – probably others he ministered to – to imitate him AS he imitated CHRIST. Of any people I have ever cared to be like, it was that portion of them where Jesus shown through. After all, I have enough of my own flaws, I need not imitate those of another.

    Is it fair to emulate someone else? If one is being discipled by a person of good character, maturity and personal discipline, that disciple will likely take on what he learns. But, should he not seek to go beyond? Shouldn’t he desire more of the Lord, better understanding, or a closer relationship with God? This is not to be better than his teacher in an arrogant sort of way, but to raise imitation to emulation.

    Of course, we can imitate Christ, never emulate Him, as we will not and can not…dare not try to…be better than He. Emulation is strictly among us human-folk.

    Is my thinking correct on this?

  7. 6-6-2012

    Howard,

    Yes, in 2 Thessalonians, the exhortation was to imitate the way that Paul had worked. In the other passages I listed, there are other examples of imitation.

    John,

    Is your thinking correct? I think so… :)

    -Alan

  8. 6-7-2012

    John, Yes we can not; yet the Holy Spirit does and is one with Christ and only Speaks of christ and the Father, which through belief you have received so in Christ with the Holy Ghost as you learn to get self out of way, you, (yet not you) will shine Christ through you, and more and more as you grow in seeing it is not you it is the Holy Ghost in and through you that shines the life. No room for proudness or boastfulness
    When you see you have either one you will kn ow it is of self, and thus learn more about the walk in God through the Holy Ghost
    Howard

  9. 6-7-2012

    Yes Alan and I am thinking that in each the bottom line is to learn to walk in the Spirit where there is no condemnation
    Howard

  10. 6-7-2012

    Howard,

    Yes, I agree the point is to help one another walk in the Spirit. And, apparently, imitating others is one way to learn to walk in the Spirit.

    -Alan

  11. 7-29-2012

    –But, we do have to consider Paul’s exhortation, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ.”–

    And there it is. It has always been about the relationship between a father and a son. Paul was, to so many, a spiritual father, and so many were as spiritual sons to him. So when he mentions that we are to imitate him, it is trustworthy, since he models himself as a father and not merely an apostle. For truly, isn’t the best advice any father can give is, “Walk where I walked, in my footsteps, and you will avoid the landmines. Trust me on this.”

  12. 7-29-2012

    Donald,

    I’ve written several posts about the importance of examples and learning from other believers – especially those who are more mature in following Jesus Christ. The type of copying that I’m talking about in this post is different. So, I definitely agree with you than we can learn from and follow the example of other Christians.

    -Alan

  13. 7-29-2012

    Alan,

    I wasn’t commenting about the whole of the content in this particular post. I do not, nor shall I ever, copy another believer, no matter their maturity or religious station.

    Like Timothy, I have a Paul over me who counsels me in the spirit of fatherhood. That was, to me, the thrust of the ‘imitators of me’ reference of Paul, in my opinion. For surely we have no lack of mentors/teachers, but a definite lack of spiritual fathers.

  14. 7-29-2012

    Donald,

    Thanks for the clarification. I thought that’s what you were saying, but I wasn’t exactly sure. And, I definitely agree with your conclusion.

    -Alan

  15. 7-29-2012

    Alan,

    My apologies! I should have clarified m initial comments. SO it goes when having a dialogue via the Internet. :)

    Btw, I am digging through your older posts. They look to be….thought-provoking. I’ll see you again, I’m sure. *wink*

  16. 7-30-2012

    Donad,

    There’s no reason to apologize. Thanks for reading and taking part in the discussion… not just on this post, but on others also. :)

    -Alan