Imitate: Verb meaning to take or follow as an example.
We don’t really get to choose whether or not some one imitates us.
We do get to choose who we imitate!!
In Paul’s first letter to Corinth, he tells them to “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) This has always seemed pretty intimidating to me. I never really thought that I would feel confident enough to say those words to anyone. But, my children need a Christian role model.
I mean we all know the great acts of the Apostle Paul. He healed in Jesus name, made and baptized Gentile converts as the first missionary, planted churches, discipled young believers, survived prison, beatings, ship wrecks and snake bites, and all for the cause of Christ. This is one impressive resume. So, I have no quarrel with Paul that he truly “imitated Christ.” And, for a long while, I just thought this was for Paul.
Then, I had children. I think anyone who has their first child would be willing to admit that you realize real quick like that you are in way over your head. The responsibility of caring for another life is quite the undertaking and should not be handled lightly. We are accountable for their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being. And whether we like it or not, they are following us closely and imitating everything we do and say. Their speech patterns are dependent on them being able to mimic the shape of our mouths as we speak and how they interpret what we say. They will settle into a routine at home based on how we set the tone and schedule our day.
So, we are the example, end of story. The question for us : what kind of example? Will we shrink back from this privilege and declare, “Don’t look at me, look at Jesus?” This statement sounds good in theory but who teaches them Jesus? Who shows them that it is possible for a created being to wholeheartedly follow Jesus’ instruction? Our faith and how we live it out will send a message to them whether we mean for it to or not.
Paul knew he was an example to the new converts. He also was aware that it was not he himself who was a praiseworthy model, but Paul the dedicated disciple of Jesus was the model to emulate. Paul knew by imitating Jesus that he was giving his children in the faith a Christian role model example to follow.
The good news is that this also sets a standard on the way we are to imitate Christ and our children imitate us. “As I also imitate Christ” has the suggestion of “emulate me only when and how you see me emulating Jesus.” We also know that Paul wasn’t saying that he was the perfect example or that he never failed because he tells his disciple Timothy, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1Tim 1:15) Paul just knew that the One that he imitated was perfect and by starting to imitate Paul, they could be led to their own path of imitating Christ.
So, if we want our children to imitate us as we imitate Christ, we need to be sure that we are truly “imitating Christ.” We need to be disciplined to read our bibles, to pray regularly, to serve in our church, to look out for and love our neighbors, to share the good news with others and to let our kids see us do this or even better, invite them along!
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, but be sure you go that way yourself.”
Our babies are watching all we do, let’s love in word and deed, in spirit and in truth, and along the way, feel confident in saying, “Imitate me as I strive to imitate Christ.” A Mom worth imitating is one who imitates Christ!!
Today, I am asking Christ, with a humble heart, what He needs to change in me so that my children see Jesus. I want to make them want to follow Him! How about you? I would love to hear your thoughts Momma.
Also, check out this post on How To Give Them Jesus.
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