This Sunday I’ll be preaching on 1 Corinthians 4:14-21 where I’ll discuss (among many things) what does it mean to be a spiritual father. Paul was a spiritual father because he started the church in Corinth; he literally was the instrument God used to lead many Corinthians to faith in Jesus and therefore, was their spiritual father. And in that culture kids imitated their father. If you dad was a teacher, you were going to be a teacher; a banker, then a banker – you get the idea. Due to this spiritual father relationship he has with them he calls them in 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” Paul calls the church of God in Corinth to “imitate him.” He was not calling them to identify with him and be a carbon-copy of his life, to elevate him or exclusively be about his leadership and ministry because that would contradict much of what he has already written in 1 Corinthians. But he was calling them to imitate (mimic) his life in so far as his conduct was commensurate with the gospel of Jesus.
Paul’s command to the Corinthians to imitate him does beg the question for me: would people want to imitate my Christian life? Would people want to imitate your Christian life. Similar to this passage in Corinthians is a passage in Philippians where again Paul calls the believers in Philippi to put into practice the truth he shared with them. Stephen/Mark Altrogge at their blog put forth these questions that I found very helpful:
- What do I want people to imitate about me?
- What would I not want people to imitate about me?
- What do I see in others that I want to imitate?
- Would people say I am loving? Joyful? Cheerful? A person of faith? Compassionate and sympathetic? An encourager? A servant? Someone who considers others more important than himself or herself?
You can read the rest of the short, challenging article here.