You, I will Follow; You, I will Imitate


Paul told the churches: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” –NKJV- The key element of this verse is “…just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul was in a hot pursuit to be like Jesus and that alone is worthy of imitation. It was more than the manifestation of a gift; it was more than just what he knew…

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“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” –KJV-

First Corinthians 11:1

 

            The word “follower” comes from the Greek word “mimeuteus” meaning: “Imitator or example.” The word “imitate” is a synonym with the following words: copy, reproduce, duplicate and emulate. How can an imperfect human being ask other imperfect human beings to imitate him? The Apostle Paul was bold enough as to encourage his disciples to imitate him? Was Paul perfect already? Absolutely not; he acknowledged his imperfections and struggles himself in Romans 7:14-25 as he states:

“14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good.

17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”

 

              These verses, if we are honest, represent the inner struggles of every Christian. It is the bloody battle between our Spiritual and Carnal man. No one is immune or exempt from these struggles. Nevertheless, Paul still encouraged his disciples to imitate him…How could that be?

                In an age when many call themselves Apostles; how many can we truly imitate? How many of them encourage us to imitate them? An Apostle for me is a “Father.” Many years ago, as I was pondering over the ultimate evidence of an Apostle, I heard in my spirit that the ultimate evidence of an Apostle is found in his spiritual children. You can’t be an Apostle if you do not have any spiritual children; that is still pretty clear to me. During that time in my life, much emphasis was placed in the manifestation of our talents; so I assumed that in order for someone to be considered an Apostle, they needed to have spiritual children actively involved in ministry as we know ministry to be. So, in order for you to be considered an Apostle you needed to have planted churches all over. The bigger your building is, the more churches you planted…then greater of an Apostle you are.

              It was not until recently that I felt an expansion on this revelation. There are three elements that can’t be ignored when we imitate a spiritual leader:

  • The Spiritual knowledge of the leader: This represents the knowledge of the Word and the wisdom received from God that leader possesses.
  • The gift of that leader: These are the manifested talents and abilities of that leader.
  • Character: This represents the value system of that leader. What is really important; what he is willing to apply as part of his life and daily walk as a person.

 

               As it refers to Knowledge, we have almost entirely substituted learning from a spiritual father for learning what we know through seminary. So in book and degrees, many times, the sons overpass the fathers as they can go online and become Doctors in Theology. The sons become attracted by the gifts and talents of the “Big shots;” the way they preach; the way they teach, the way they sing. I don’t think it is a coincidence to see how in Puerto Rico almost all the charismatic preachers sound the same. In the United States, there is no difference either. Many use the exact expressions over and over…“Can I get a witness,” “Can you say amen,” etc. etc. etc…So, now I get my degree, I can imitate the “big shots” on TBN, get myself a title before my name (Doctor, Bishop, Apostle, etc.) and I am on my way!

              There is one more aspect and indeed the most important one of all: CHARACTER. See, we all have gifts and we can all learn a few Scripture. However, when it comes down to character; that is really who we are; it can’t be faked for long. Character represents what we value the most and our true and sincere “Will.” A man of character is a man that is after God’s will and not his own. Like Paul, this man still struggles, but his heart is fixed on doing God’s will. For example: I used to be a baseball player and every time I faced a pitcher from the opposite team it was my sincere desire to take the ball out of the park and hit a homerun or at least get in base with a single. That was my sincere desire; obviously it did not always happen. As a matter of fact, during my best season, I hit a batting average of 417; which means that almost six out of ten opportunities at bat I was a total failure. Nevertheless, that was not my will; it was just evidence of my humanity. As we walk with God, do we really want to love like He loves? Do we want to desire what He desires? Do we value what He values? Do we want to hit a homerun for Jesus?

              Paul told the churches: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” –NKJV- The key element of this verse is “…just as I also imitate Christ.” Paul was in a hot pursuit to be like Jesus and that alone is worthy of imitation. It was more than the manifestation of a gift; it was more than just what he knew…it was what this man really valued in life! Beloved, that is what we are lacking in many of our leaders today. It seems like all they want to talk about is money and how to get it. Others only talk about the manifestation of talents; others emphasis in knowledge, but is there anybody out there imitating Jesus? You, I will follow… You, I will imitate!

 

 

1 comments on “You, I will Follow; You, I will Imitate”

  1. How true! Natural ability and God’s gifting may take you where your character can’t keep you. What seems to be obvious in the eyes of man can be deceptive. This is a mistake that individuals and churches make much of the time. The tendency of man is to acknowledge and promote the gifting in people instead of witnessing proven character.

    For me, there is a key question: How does one fulfill his or her destiny? Simple answers such as, “I just follow Jesus” (though true) do not quite cut it because they are overly simplistic. In order to be the sort of persons who can follow in the footsteps of Paul (let alone the footprints of Jesus), we need to be profoundly touched by God. We need to be so rooted in God’s character that we are capable of adapting ourselves to new challenges, structures, and circumstances without losing the substance of who we are in Jesus. This means that deep character is more important than our superficial gifts and talents.

    This is not easy. It is even dangerous. In fact, Paul offers two strong warnings: First, Paul uses an athletic metaphor to describe the seriousness of the danger: “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

    Those of us who wish to imitate Jesus need to realize the level of commitment necessary. Just as the athlete must continue her or his training to stay on top, so must we who follow Jesus be intentional and consistent in the nurturing our own relationship with God.

    Then, in chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds his readers of the unfaithfulness of Israel despite the fact that the Israelites were eyewitnesses of incredible acts of God. Our past history with God is no guarantee of our future faithfulness. Reflecting on Israel’s past tendency to be unfaithful in spite of God’s faithfulness, Paul warning in 1 Cor 10:14 “If you think you are standing strong, be careful that you don’t fall.”

    The lesson is this: Natural ability and gifting alone can bring you temporary success, but eventually a lack of character will see it crumble. Character represents a prepared heart that is pure and tendered to the purposes of God. When God finds people with character of heart he anoints them to accomplish their destinies. He knows he can trust such people with the awesome responsibility of leading his sheep.

    Destiny will never be accomplished in natural ability without the preparation of the heart. Nor can our own personal holiness be separated from the destiny that God calls us to fulfill. Character matters. Character takes time to develop, so don’t despise your time of obscurity and hiddenness because it will yield the result of a heart that God is looking for in order to promote to the realization of destiny. When the character of Jesus truly resides in us, we can adapt ourselves to new situations and God will use us to reach others who desperately need the good news that is found only in Jesus. If we follow Jesus boldly, he will lead us into the darkest places in the world so that we can serve as light as Jesus shines through us.

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