As I Imitate Christ
By Gary Sims
"As I Imitate Christ" is a study on Godly leadership through example; leadership of leaders; being a mentor; and being a leader according to God's design. It is a prayer and a desire to be everything Christ would have us become and to recognize that all things are possible when we choose to follow the example of Christ in our lives.
"It is a prayer and a desire to be everything Christ would have us become…"
Prayer, desire, and action; these are the action verbs for Christ-like living. When we first don the mantle of Christ-likeness it feels a bit awkward. It is a coat of many colors that sits a little loose on our shoulders and rides somewhat uncomfortably around our frame. We are uncertain that it was actually made for us to wear and we are self-conscious of its appearance and fit. Our tendency is to remove it and to set in aside, perhaps for special occasions or when we think that no one is looking.
However, as we continue to grow in our faith we come to realize that this coat has actually been created for our daily wear. Feelings of awkwardness are replaced by fear and doubt. Our stress mounts and we turn to God for advice.
"Lord, are you certain this coat is for me?"
"God, help me to become the disciple you have called me to be…but remember my limitations."
"Father in Heaven, create in me the willingness to live as you would have me live, give me the peace of mind to accept your gift of grace, and lead me in your pathway of righteousness, but are you certain about this coat?"
Prayers for a changed heart and a willingness to accept the cloak of Christ begin to dominate our conversations with God. We move beyond our original debate of unworthiness and step into the waters of possibility. Through prayer our desire to please our God grows. We begin to recognize just how much this means to Him and that it is not just for our own benefit, our own plumage. Donning Christ-likeness is for those who will come to know Him through the way we live our lives. Imitating Christ is not simply living life according to a certain set of rules and guidelines. Instead, it is being Christ for those we come in contact with in life. It avails Christ to all. It brings the One, the Truth, and the Way into peoples lives. It is the only way Christ can be experienced.
With this realization and with the understanding that God created this beautiful coat for all the world to see, our attitudes change and our willingness to serve God grows. We hear Him more clearly guiding us through the details of daily living. We become more comfortable in how to act. The coat no longer drapes around our shoulders as a loose fitting garment that is removed at a whim. It becomes a natural part or extension of who we are. Its beauty grows yet it becomes invisible as a separate garment or shroud. We become Christ-like without pretense or airs. It is who we are.
Then as the world looks on, amazing things begin to occur.
In Karen Deikun's story this month entitled "A Humble Walk With Jesus," she writes about the life of a man named Ray who had comfortably worn the cloak of Christ throughout his life. His gentle and loving manner of living was a blessing to all who knew him. But most importantly, in his unassuming way, Ray simply "stepped aside and allowed people to see the Lord." Isn't that all God is asking for us to do, to step aside so He can shine in the lives we touch?
But how can we tell when we are living life as God would have us? How do we know when we are living our lives as Ray lived his, revealing Christ to everyone he met? Are the Ray's of the world a rarity, or is God expecting us all to reveal His glory in this way?
Joyce Pool, in "Absurd! Absurd?" provides us a glimpse of how these questions are to be answered. Living Christ-like is not the result of our own actions; our own understanding. Instead, it is the by-product of our listening to the Master's voice. Discernment is not a unique or special talent. In our calling as Christians, our ears have been opened to the Word. Christ speaks and we follow because we know His voice. The key from Joyce's article is listening. As you read her article you will see that listening for God is not a simple once-in-a-while event. As we learn to listen for God's voice we learn to recognize His guidance in everything we do, even in the mundane moments such as in turning a radio dial.
It is absurd to think that the Creator of the Universe is willing to take the time to involve Himself to that degree in our lives but that fact remains – He does. He is intimately aware of our every action and wants desperately to move us closer to Him. He will take every opportunity to do so, should we choose to listen. Listening opens up an entire world of possibilities with lessons to learn, ideas to spawn, relationships to develop, and opportunities to reveal God's glory at every turn.
A very good man named Ray listened and the world was a better place for it. An obedient Joyce listened and a lesson was learned. When we listen, the cloak fits more exactly and the path we follow becomes straighter with each step we take.
In listening we find that God's "purpose is that (we) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that (we) may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that (we) may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ." (Colossians 2:2 CEV) When we know Christ, the world knows Christ and His coat becomes the fashion trend of the age.
Gary Sims is a husband, and father of two teens. He is a Lay Worship Leader and Teacher at First United Methodist Church, Albuquerque, NM. Gary writes a Lectionary-based daily devotional entitled "Reflections of the Spirit", which can be found at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=2297
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