Posts Tagged 1 Corinthians 11: 1

Aromatic Imitation

Ephesians 5: 1

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ love us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We have been told that the Christian life is one of imitating Christ. The Apostle Paul told us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11: 1). Did you ever consider being an imitator of God? Can you even wrap your head around that idea. In truth, though, to imitate Christ is to imitate God but somehow it seems easier to think about since he was a man and walked the earth. Imitating Paul puts it one step closer to us but then he tells us to imitate God, doing the things He does, thinking the way He thinks.

Children naturally mimic their parents and that is what Paul is getting at here. The first leg of the stool is that we are children of God. Paul takes that very seriously and very literally. The rest of his thoughts lean upon this premise. If we are truly the children of God, then we have His DNA and we have His heart. We are in every way tied to Him and are of Him so that we can replicate His actions and thoughts. That is a pretty huge concept.

The leading expression of being a child of God is to walk in love for God is love. Jesus, God’s first child, demonstrated the DNA of God in his love for us. He gave. John 3: 16 tells us that because God so loved the world, He gave. So, when Jesus gave all, he was imitating his father. Neither was selfish. Jesus did as he saw his father do. He put all of us before his comfort, needs or desires. Our need trumped his. That is what love does. It puts others first.

Do you see also that Jesus’ offering was fragrant? How often have you thought of the passion of Christ as fragrant? God, however, sees, smells and tastes the beautiful aroma of love. Wherever love is expressed, the scent wafts up to heaven as a fragrant aroma. When you praise God and worship Him, He not only hears your words but He tastes the delicate flavor of your love. Our praise rises to His throne room to flood His senses with joy and pleasure.

In this you see that it really isn’t that difficult to bless the Lord or to minister to Him. The expression of love fills His throne room with pleasant aromas and tickles His palate with divine flavors. As we love others the way Yahweh and Jesus love us, we color the environment with beauty and luscious aroma. It was love that created the earth and love that saved us from hell. As we imitate the Father in love, we create beauty too and when you get to heaven you will be able to fully appreciate your creation.

Walking

John 5: 30

I can do nothing of my own initiative.

If Jesus could do nothing of his own initiative, what makes me think I can do anything of my own initiative. I am trying to get a big revelation of this verse and what Jesus was conveying to us. In verse 19 of this same chapter Jesus said that he could do nothing of Himself, only what he saw the Father doing. As I pondered these couple of verses the story of Jesus walking on the water came to mind. I am trying to understand what happened as Jesus approached the water.

Jesus earlier sent his disciples on ahead of him in the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. As Jesus prepared to follow them I presume he walked down to the water’s edge. Did he look for a boat for hire or one to borrow and there were none available? What happened next? If Jesus only did the things he saw his father do then he must have had some sort of revelation from God; a vision, a memory, about walking as a viable means of transport across bodies of water. Did He see in his spirit God walking before him on the water and so just launched out following the father? Did God show Jesus an image in his mind’s eye of Jesus walking on the water with God the Father?

I just don’t know but we know that Jesus did nothing of his own initiative. Therefore, God initiated Jesus’ stroll on the sea of Galilea. We also know that Jesus could do only those things which he saw His father do so God had to have, in some way, demonstrated walking on water. I am guessing that God didn’t sit down on the edge of the lake with Jesus and explain the physics of water molecule cohesion to him. He didn’t give him a course on water walking, I don’t believe. No, it seems to me that perhaps Jesus had to receive the concept by faith. 

Jesus didn’t explain the physics to Peter either. Peter saw Jesus walking on the water and emulated him. Paul told his disciples, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11: 1).  That is our essential model. Jesus is only doing what he witnesses his Father doing so we are to imitate Jesus as he imitates the Father.

Stop striving, stop trying, stop planning all your moves. Put your eyes on Jesus and just walk.

The Wise Follower

Hebrews 13: 7

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

On two occasions the Apostle Paul encouraged people to imitate him. The first occurrence is in 1 Corinthians 4: 16 where he wrote, “I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me.” I find that remarkable. What kind of confidence does it take to tell people to examine your life and imitate it? Isn’t that exactly what today’s verse teaches though? The second time Paul instructs people to follow him by imitating his life is in 1 Corinthians 11: 1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” The key is in the last phrase. He was confident in his following of Christ. “Follow me as I follow Christ,” he might say.

No one walks this journey alone. There is no such thing as a self-made person. We all stand upon someone else’s shoulders. The wise among us are better at this than the rest of us. They don’t let their ego inhibit their growth. For some people, advancing on the journey is more important than trying to be their own leader. There is an expression in legal circles that an attorney who represents himself in litigation has a fool for a client. The same sort of wisdom can be applied to our spiritual journey. Only a fool would nominate himself as his own leader. How can I lead myself where I have not yet gone?

I am increasingly aware of and impressed by the number of times the Bible addresses humility. It is one of the overarching principles in the Bible. Humility goes with honor. Pride is associated with one’s destruction (Proverb 16: 18). Pride is often joined with foolishness while humility is the hallmark of the wise.   The reason this is important is that the number one reason we do not submit to another’s leadership is ego. If we can embrace humility, then we can benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

There are people in the body of Christ who have been appointed as leaders and they bear a tremendous burden because they have been given the responsibility for leading the flock. Having been appointed to positions of leadership has not made them perfect but still they lead the way for us. As today’s verse teaches, we are able to consider the result of their conduct, which is the same as beholding their fruit. If the fruit is good then humble yourself and receive the benefit of their instruction. 

I want you to be a follower even if you have been chosen as a leader because only good followers make good leaders. I do want you to be wise in who you follow though. Let us look again at today’s verse. Beyond being a person who bears good fruit they also must be one who speaks the Word of God to you. I don’t care how wise or how awesome they seem, if their advice is worldly then they are deceived and will soon lead you in to deception. And by now we all know who the author of deception is. Paul intones, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” In like manner we might say, “Follow this advice which I have received from the Lord Jesus.” We also should follow those who are following Christ. There is no one of this earth who can give us wisdom that eclipses that of God. So, why would we listen to those fools? And yet we do. In plain language let us be clear. Do not take financial advice from someone who does not tithe. Do not take relationship advice from someone who does not have a deep and abiding relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit. Do not take business advice from someone who has not made Christ the Lord over their business. We have learned what happens when we follow worldly fiscal and business advice. We end up in an upside down economy such as we experienced in 2008 and the years following.

Lastly, I wish to strongly encourage you to honor those who are leading you. Read today’s verse again. Who does it bring to your mind? Who has spoken the Word of God to you? Of course our pastors spring to our minds and I wish for you to show them honor and gratitude because theirs is a difficult job to say the least. Perhaps there are some other people who have given you the benefit of their walk with the Lord. Hearken to their voice and bless them however you may.

Following a Decoy

John 3: 1 – 2

Nicodemus … said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Beware; lest you be led astray. We are to follow fruit rather than signs. People will come, false prophets, empowered through the enemy by a perversion of God’s spiritual laws and will lead away many. People will follow these false prophets unto death. Jesus warned us of this saying, “False Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24: 24). You see, they will lead away the uninitiated but their higher purpose is to deceive and hence, mislead the elect, the chosen. That is you and me.

Jesus came is signs and wonders and we should do the same. Signs testify of Jesus. We are to lay hands on the sick so that they recover, cast out demons, raise the dead and all the rest. As a matter of fact, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” (John 14: 12). We are actually supposed to see greater works at our hands than even those Jesus performed. I know that sounds like heresy but Jesus is the one who said it so take it up with him. So, I am not arguing against signs and wonders, far from it. I want you to be the point of origin for amazing signs and wonders but I do not want you to follow signs and miracles in order to follow Jesus because there will be counterfeit prophets who will penetrate even our innermost sanctum. We are to follow fruit.

If you would follow a person, follow their advice or their teaching then first look to their life. Are they givers? If they are not, stop right there. You need no other evidence. They are either of the enemy’s camp or they are immature Christians. You cannot follow God, be like God and have God expressing Himself within you without becoming a giver personally. It just cannot happen because God is foremost generous in His giving. Most of us know John 3: 16. What does it say? “For God so loved the world, that He gave ….”  

We want to follow people who are following God. In his first letter to the church at Corinth Paul made one of the boldest statements of the New Testament. He said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11: 1). Amazing! He was making this point that we follow those whose life is buried in Christ. I am not saying that you are looking for someone who is perfect but I do think we need to emulate people who are emulating Christ and that it is those people from whom we should draw advice and whose teaching we should follow with our eyes ever upon Jesus and that we will know these people by their fruit.

(See also: Matthew 7: 15, Matthew 24: 11, Mark 13: 22 and Luke 6: 26)