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The secondary concern with imitation in Scripture

Posted by on Nov 21, 2012 in community, discipleship, fellowship, scripture | 3 comments

The secondary concern with imitation in Scripture

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.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-21-2012

    Primary concern is the “Who?” Secondary concern is the “What?”
    Yet, two key questions in both cases are “Why?” and “How?”

    Why should I be an imitator of God? Isn’t He perfect and I sinful? Isn’t it arrogant to think I could be like God? Wasn’t that part of the temptation that deceived Eve in the Garden?

    Also, just how should I go about imitating the Creator of the Universe? That sounds like a grandiose plan doomed to fail from the start. How could could I do such an awesome thing?

    Why? “Don’t you know…” Those who believe in Christ are dead to sin. We have ALREADY been blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing in heavenly places. It is Christ who lives in us. What Christ is, we are! We can know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, and come to the fullness of Him who dwells in us. Why? Because we can!

    How? With all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Be transformed by renewing of your mind. Diligently seek Him. Be filled with the Spirit. Walk in the Spirit and in fellowship with Christ and one another. If you love Him the result will be that you will keep His commands.

    Being an imitator is not about simply picking a target and mimicking them. It is, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus…” Trust Him outright, and His peace, which surpasses ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    Who are my targets and why? They’re humble, not proud. How and what should I imitate about them? In humility and love, seek unity in the Spirit of Christ.


  2. 11-22-2012

    How refreshing! In a world where so many Christians struggle with their ethical calculus, we need to reclaim the primacy of imitatio Christi.

  3. 11-26-2012


    Thanks for continuing this series with your comment. Your addition is in line with what I’ve been reading as well.


    Thanks for the comment and the link. I hope to check it out soon.