1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
11 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
Our society tends to distrust authority figures. We’ve seen leaders caught in lies and scandals, and established institutions often seem to fail us. So how do we process Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to “imitate me”?
Paul was talking about gospel-centered transformation. The Holy Spirit shapes us into the image of Christ as we learn to trust our Savior and follow His example. We grow through prayer and Bible study, but also by living in community with the body of Christ and by watching those who walk closely with Him.
In Judaism, it was common for students to literally follow a master teacher and observe how he lived. Jesus called 12 men to follow Him in His earthly ministry. Before He ascended, He promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them.
John 16:13 (NIV)
13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1 literally meant “whatever you see of Jesus in Paul, imitate that.” The Lord can use mature believers in the body of Christ not only to provide encouragement, rebuke, and edification, but also to set an example. We need to make it a habit to look for glimpses of grace in the lives of the godly believers who are surrounding us today in our time.
Matthew Henry was a Nonconformist minister who spent the majority of his life preaching in England. He once said, “Follow me as far as I follow Christ. Come up as close as you can to my example in those instances wherein I endeavor to copy after his pattern. Be my disciples, as far as I manifest myself to be a faithful minister and disciple of Christ, and no further. I would not have you be my disciples.” It seems to me that he had a pretty good handle on his role as a mentor to those around him.
I would like us to consider a few questions this week:
Who are some people worth imitating?
What Christ like qualities do you see in them?
What’s the difference between following someone’s example and unhealthy adoration?
Yes, we need to follow Jesus, but we also need to follow mature believers in our circles. God designed us to help each other grow together.