1 Corinthians 11:1 AMP Pattern yourselves after me [follow my example], as I imitate and follow Christ (the Messiah).
Paul spoke this sentence to the believers in Corinth. Paul – the one who has been portrayed by many teachers and preachers through the years as proud and arrogant. Paul – the one who has been made out to be a chauvinist. Paul – who went after Christians in every way he could, even going so far as having them killed, attempting to stop the spread of the gospel prior to his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus. This same Paul has the audacity to say to believers to pattern themselves after him as he imitates and follows Christ. How dare he say that?! Would a humble Christian say that?!
Paul’s confidence appears to many to be self-confidence. His boldness to declare in Acts 20:26, “I am innocent of the blood of all men,” looks like an outright lie to those who know his past. That’s what stops most of us from telling others that we are innocent, or to follow us and imitate our example as we follow Christ. We know the wrongs of our past, and we know others know them, too. We would never consider ourselves good enough, pure enough, or righteous enough, so the last thing we’d want is for others to imitate us. But is that what we are to consider?
Paul was not deceived, in denial, or suffering amnesia. He practiced what he taught, and he taught what the Lord taught him – that we are to leave the past behind (even the positive) and press on toward the mark (Phil. 3:13-14). He understood that when Jesus forgave His sins, they were no longer to be his focus, as they were truly washed away by His blood. He needed but to go forward in the Lord, seeking to know Him more and to make Him known (Phil. 3:10) – not continually re-examining past sins, or receiving the judgments of others who wanted to do so.
When Paul called others to imitate him, there was no pride or self-confidence at all. There was complete confidence in Who Jesus Christ is, knowing the power of the Holy Spirit alive in him, enabling him to follow Christ and lead others in the same way. He knew the authority and the righteousness of Christ in him, and that God called him righteous because of Christ. His focus was not on his sin, but on the completeness of Christ in him, Who is so much greater than all sin. Jesus called Paul to follow Him and become His disciple, so he chose to do likewise.
As believers, we can have this same confidence in Christ – this same boldness to call others to follow our example. It comes from focusing on our risen Savior, not on our old, fallen nature. It also comes from believing the Word. We have a new nature. We are God’s righteousness, risen with Christ, seated with Him in heavenly realms. It is not based on our feelings, but on His Word and what He has done. He did it for Paul. He’s done it for us. Making disciples means giving them an example to follow. So, like Paul, we can choose to say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”
2 thoughts on “Follow Me As I Follow Christ”
We should follow Jesus directly – not “follow Paul as he follows Christ.”
Here is a contrast between the teaching of Jesus vs. Paul.
Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]
Of all the commandments, which is the most important?
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]
But, in contrast, Paul didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
“The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]
And again, Paul wrote:
“He how loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]
Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
.1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
.2) second, love people.
Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.
Paul, and the Beatles, were wrong.
Jesus is right. I’m following Jesus.
Thanks for taking the time to write, Matthew. Since most of the comment is the same as what you included after reading Questioning God, Questioning Leaders (https://tomakechristknown.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/questioning-god-questioning-leaders/), I will refer you to my response there. So glad you desire to know Christ. We’re in this together. Blessings in the glorious name of Jesus Christ! Kay