Monday, October 17, 2011

Imitate Me

There is a great tear in the moral fiber of our society and it is having a devastating pull on the Church. As much as we fight against it in our society we must also understand that they are only doing what comes natural. Sexual relations outside of marriage, homosexuality, pornography, violence, murder, it is all natural to a person without Jesus Christ. It is what we were all born in to. We may work hard at conforming our society to act as if it is Christian but what it really needs is the transforming power of Jesus Christ, a new birth. What we should really be concerned with is how the degrading morality of society is eating away at the edges of the Church and taking away our boldness in Jesus.

One of the "cop outs" we use now is when we tell people not to follow us but to follow Jesus. This makes sense in that we cannot save anyone but at the same time we want a little elbow room for when we slip up, make mistakes and sin. We don't want to feel guilty for anyone following us into sin. It is a lazy man's way of thinking and living. Imagine saying this to people:

Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. (1 Corinthians 4:15-16)

The last thing we would ever say to anyone is "imitate me" and it is a sad thing. It means that we don't trust the power of Jesus Christ. It means that we don't believe he has the power to save us and keep us until his return. It means that we are anticipating that we will fall because we don't trust Jesus. We have been hearing a watered down gospel from weak men of faith, and I am one of them. Let's review for a moment here.

This man Paul, who we consider to be the greatest follower of Jesus Christ also said of himself:

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16)

So this "worst of sinners" was telling people to follow his example, to imitate him. Paul was a murderer and persecutor of innocent people. This was the man who ended his relationship with a dear friend over a dispute about a relative. He did not know how to obey the Holy Spirit at the beginning. He was far from perfect yet, he had such a confidence in the sustaining power of Jesus that he stepped into a life of boldness. He stepped out of the old into the new. He allowed the power of Jesus to transform him. This same boldness that enabled him to stand before angry crowds and proclaim Jesus Christ enabled him to speak of the confidence he had in the power of Jesus to keep him from sin, to fill his life with patience and kindness, stripping away everything in him that leads to sin.

Sin is a choice that we have. We can no longer claim that "the devil made me do it" because sin has no power over us any more. When we accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour the power of sin over us was destroyed as our sinful nature was crucified with Jesus. This is the reality that Paul lived and he loved Jesus so much that he made the choice for Jesus every time sin presented itself. Here's a fact:

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

So, if God makes sure that we cannot be overwhelmed by temptation it must mean that sin is a choice we make. It means that we are immature in our love for Jesus. It means that we need to grow up and live this life of boldness and trust. If we keep putting in an "escape clause" with other people it means that we do not really believe that Jesus has the power to preserve us until the coming age. We lack faith and trust, and even more importantly real love. Faith and trust grow out of love.

Paul told the Corinthians he was sending Timothy to them for a specific reason:

He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:17)

What are people seeing when they look at your life? Are they seeing someone who is spiritually weak, who lives by an "escape clause" such as "I am not perfect, only forgiven". Or do they see a boldness and strength that they are attracted to as you choose every moment of every day to live your life in the power of Jesus so that he gets all the glory. Your life is no longer your own but now belongs to Jesus which he uses to bring glory to the Father. So live your life as an example to other believers:

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

You have the power of Jesus Christ to do exactly that.

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