As I mentioned in my post “Lessons in Imitation,” the idea of imitation is very important to the authors of the New Testament. This is especially true of Paul, but John (at least) also exhorts his readers toward imitation. In that post, I listed several of the passages in Scripture in which people were exhorted toward imitation. Those instructions included the imitation of God as well as the imitation of other followers of Jesus (both the authors and others).
When we read through those passages, we can see that the primary concern of the authors is for the readers to consider who they are imitating. In this post, I want to consider another concern about imitation that can only be inferred from those passages, and so is a secondary concern.
What concern is that? While the primary concern of the scriptural authors is for the readers to think carefully about who they are imitating, a secondary concern is for the readers to think about the kind of life they are living and that others are imitating.
Now, before I begin, I need to make something clear. We do not live a certain way because other people are watching us (noticing how we live and following our example, either good or bad). Instead, we live a certain way in obedience to Jesus Christ and in order to glorify God. However, while other people ARE watching us, and they ARE following our example whether we realize it or not. And, being a good example (of a follower of Jesus Christ and child of God) is part of obeying Jesus and glorifying God.
But, even before talking about what it means to live in a way that honors Jesus, there’s another step that we need to consider – a step that I think many among the church are setting aside. What step is that? Actually sharing life with others so that they are able to see your life and you are able to see their life.
Think about it… How can you imitate someone if you do not know how that person lives? How can someone imitate your way of life if they do not know how you live? For too long, the church has relied almost completely on words (either spoken or written) as the primary method of teaching and discipleship. This is not sufficient.
We must begin sharing our lives with one another – every aspect of our lives – yes, even the parts that you wish were not there. Why? Because that’s how real discipleship, teaching, and fellowship takes place. Anything else is a farce – a fake – not reality.
Of course, the church today does not accept this kind of messiness… because life is messy. Instead, we prefer to have things polished, practiced, excellent. And, I think, this is stunting the growth of many Christians.
So, start sharing your life with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Let them see the good and the bad. It’s okay, even if they reject you. And some will.
But, others will accept you as you are, and you will be able to accept them as they are. And, together, you will learn to imitate good and stay away from evil, and together you will grow in maturity in Jesus Christ.