“Become fellow imitators of me, brothers, and pay attention to the ones who walk in this way — according to the pattern you have from us.”
So, to whom do you listen? To whom do you pay attention? Whose life do you seek to model your own life after? Is it the rich and famous that you seek to emulate? Or are it the godly that you seek to model your life after? How important this question is for us to answer, but how rarely we get this answer correct.
The Apostle Paul is clear, if you claim to be a Christian, you must emulate the life of mature Christians…namely the example set by Paul himself for Paul seeks to emulate Christ for us (1 Corinthians 11:1). And even Christ sets the same pattern for us as he is the very image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). A pattern has been laid out for you and for me; the question is, will we follow that pattern? And, if we intend the follow that pattern, how will we go about following that pattern? Will we simply guess at what we think that Paul or Jesus would do? That practice sounds pretty subjective to me. Or will we immerse ourselves in the scriptures so we know that Paul and Jesus did do — further — so we know what the Father commanded given such things.
Broadly, as I look over the evangelical landscape in America, I am concerned that we have turned Paul’s command here into either a suggestion or into a context that is open to pure speculation. People often live multiple lives in the sense that they behave one way in church and another way in the community. Or they belive that just about anything goes as long as it “feels” spiritual. We find churches even incorporating pagan practices into their worship under the umbrella of being “inclusive” or “culturally sensitive.” Yet, if the Bible is able to prepare us for every good work, why do such churches seek practices outside of the scriptures to guide them?
May I simply close with the observation that the phrase above: “pay attention to…” is an imperative in the original Greek text. In other words, what it says and what follows is not a suggestion nor is it just a good thought. It is essential for the believer to submit to and follow. So, beloved, pay attention to those who are truly godly (in a Biblical sense) in the world around you, seek out the model of the Apostle Paul in the scriptures, and seek out the model of Christ. Then apply it to your life and live it out. If you lament the collapse of the church in America today, understand, that if more professing Christians lived out their faith with such intention, that hunger and thirst for righteousness would become contagious and God may very well use our example to point people to himself.