Faith through Imitation

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4: 14 – 16 ESV

Ice Canyon hike, Mount Baldy, by Heather Zuber-Harshman

In the above passage, Paul asked the Corinthians to mimic him; to imitate his relationship with Christ. They didn’t just do it because they thought he was a cool guy with a lot going for him, they were instructed to do so. When I read this passage I pondered, “Would I ever feel strong enough in my faith to serve as a role model for others to imitate?” A resounding “no” echoed through my head in response. But then I realized that Paul was only human, too.

Paul was far from perfect. He didn’t always say the right things or respond to situations in the most constructive fashion, yet others admired his zeal for Christ and were drawn to him. They were able to overlook his human side and be inspired by his faith side.

Paul was like a parent to the Corinthians. They saw all sides to him and had to wisely discern what to mimic. He couldn’t possibly be “on” all of the time or perfect in all of his interactions with them, but that was okay. He didn’t need perfection because he had Christ, therefore who he was in Christ was enough for others to imitate him.

So even though we may never get to that end point in our faith walk where we feel totally comfortable and confident, we still have a solid enough foundation for others to learn from us, and they likely already are. Just by living out our faith every day we are role models for those around us. Even the smallest action can have a profound impact on others and lead them to imitate us:

  • Giving a hug to a person having a rough day;
  • Telling a friend that you will pray for him;
  • Pulling a friend or family member aside to pray for him;
  • Having your pastor(s) and church support staff over for dinner to thank them for their service;
  • Cutting flowers from your garden and giving them to your neighbor “just because”;
  • Sending a card to an elderly friend or relative to let him know you were thinking and praying for him;
  • Taking dinner to a family who just had a baby or who are struggling financially.

The list of ways we can make an impact on others’ faith goes on and on. Why not pick one and do it this week? What about doing one every week?

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