Follow Me As I Follow Christ

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.”

This is What’s Important!

Philippians 3:10-11 (Amp)  ”[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope] that if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].

The Lord makes it clear in His Word what our purpose is; yet, how many of us continue to question Him about it? Oh, we read the above passage and give it mental assent, but do we ever really stop to receive the application for our lives?  We ask for more information.  We want to know if we’re to preach, teach, sing, care for children, or the like.  ”What is it, God, that you want me to do?  What is the purpose for which You created me?”  While He may call us to do any of these things or more, there will only be a measure of success in them if we don’t grasp the true purpose He has for every believer – knowing Him more and more, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Philippians 3:12-15 ”Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.  I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.  So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.”

Don’t skim through these passages, dear readers.  Read the verses and meditate on them.  Get your own Bibles and read verses 7-9, as well.  Paul knew that the goal (verse 14) for which he effectively forgot all his failures and successes was simply to know Christ.  It’s not to preach to the masses, or to reach Rome, or to make a name for himself.  His passion, the motivation for everything he did, was to know Christ.  How many times have I read and studied these verses and missed the point?  Paul practically begs all who believe in Christ to lay aside all the other things that get in the way of this one goal for our lives.  When he speaks of having a different attitude of mind, he’s not talking about differences in doctrines or preferences in worship services, etc.  He’s talking about the one goal, the single pursuit, for which we have all been created – knowing Christ!  When we follow after this purpose, we can rest assured that all other differences will lose their places of prominence in our thoughts and attitudes.

How long has God tried to get this across to me, and I’ve just not tuned in, or, not stayed tuned in?  What about you?  Has our desire to pursue the ministry to which He has called us, the vision which He has given, become our goal?  I pray that we will all see ourselves as He sees us, whether our straying from this one goal has been great or small, and will allow His perfect adjustment.  Even as I write this, I sense such a release as we let go of all the things – even the good things – that have kept us from pressing on toward the goal of the greatest thing – knowing Christ.  When we make that our goal, our pursuit, we will make Him known to others, that they, too, will desire to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.