I read an article recently which struck a bunch of chords and resonated with some of the principles which I highly value. The article was an excerpt from Bobby Jamieson’s recent book: The Path to Being a Pastor. (High up on my Wishlist at the moment!)
So what stood out?
- Our western culture tries to deny and downplay the importance of imitation. It labels this model: “limiting”, “stifling” and “oppressive”. In a sense I can see where it is coming from. There are dangers of projecting our walk with God and our “God-language” onto those we lead….and yet, there is something intrinsically Biblical about imitation. The Apostle Paul tells his readers to imitate him as he seeks to imitate Christ. God repeatedly urges us to be holy as He is holy. To be a disciple of Jesus is to seek to imitate Him, to walk so closely behind Him, that we are “covered in the dust of our Rabbi”.
- In order to be someone worth imitating we need to run our lifestyles and activities through the filter of: “could I commend this practice to others?” (Phil 4:8-9). This doesn’t just apply to our bible reading, prayer life and discipleship practices…it must also apply to to what we click and what we watch. How we spend our money, how we relax on and on. Yes this is a high standard, but such is the standard expected of those who seek to be teachers!
- Being someone worth imitating means taking into account the consciences of other Christians. This is something emphasised in 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14. I am sure I have covered it in much depth on this blog elsewhere…for now, it will be enough to say, a) we cannot expect to please everyone, b) BUT it is important that we are willing to make ourselves restricted for the sake of the gospel. Paul puts it wonderfully here:
“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” – 1 Corinthians 9:19.
This may mean not eating certain things (in Paul’s case it was meat offered to idols, even though God has declared all food clean and Paul knew that there was ‘no such thing as an idol’). For us it might mean not watching certain programmes, even though we know that the content on the screen doesn’t necessarily affect us negatively.