A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
As I Imitate Christ
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Joy of Family
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Rhythm of Life
The Treehouse
Through Their Eyes
'Tis the Season
We Are the Church
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TeensAs 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.

"When we choose to follow the example of Christ in our lives…"

So does this mean that Christian discipleship and Christ-like living is a choice? When we find ourselves falling short of that image of Christ we hold in our hearts, who is to blame? Are there steps we can take to insure that we are living the life that God wants us to live? Are there ways to tell if our actions, deeds, words, and thoughts are having a positive impact on the kingdom of heaven and if we are actually leading others to Christ? Can we truly obtain a Christ-like life style?

These questions and questions like these have been bouncing before me for several months now as I consider the impact of imitating Christ in my life. In many ways, it feels like an overwhelming responsibility to be commissioned with bringing the kingdom of God into people's lives. I, for one, hardly feel worthy of such a task. As I look at my life, and I am sure others who know me would agree, I seem to be constantly falling short of what I think God expects of me. How can a sinner lead others to God? Shouldn't this be the job of saints? Does Christ really understand who He has entrusted with this very important task?

Again, just as in last month's article, I am drawn to the words of Paul as these questions continue their assault on my feelings of inadequacy: "I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason He made me His." (Philippians 3:12 NCV)

Through Paul, I am resigned to accept Christ's mission for my life. I have to accept that He knows what He is doing, even if I seem to be an unlikely candidate. So, with trepidation and uneasiness, I venture off into the world attempting to imitate Christ as I go. But how do I know what imitating Christ means? Where do I find examples? Can I find a pattern that can be trimmed to fit the situations of life in which I find myself? How about a mentor or, better yet, a saint? Who best illustrates Christ-like living in their lives?

John indicates in his Gospel that Christ has been with us since before the beginning of time. With this truth then it should be possible to find evidence of Him or of Christ-like living throughout the ages. Because of this, our journey this month in "As I Imitate Christ" takes us into the Old Testament. If Christ-like living is attainable for us today and if we are expected to imitate Christ in our daily lives, then is the same true about the prophets and saints of the Bible? Do their lives give us glimpses of Christ-like characteristics and traits?

In her story "The Winepress of Obedience," DeAnna Brooks provides us with a wonderful and very human view of Gideon from the Book of Judges. His plight and obedience in responding to God's calling illustrates what we all must feel at times when we are faced with the trepidation of God's call in our lives. Yes, we are focused on the minor tasks of life to provide for the welfare of our loved ones. Yes, we have limited resources against the forces of the world. Yes, we want proof of God's intent and once we receive that proof we ask for more proof. We are reluctant to step out into the world and we fear the outcome. However, Gideon's life shows that God is not asking us to go it alone. Gideon comes to realize that any strength he has comes from God. Any success is God's success.

As imitators of Christ who feel inadequate for the task, what better assurance then to know that our strength comes from God and that He is not asking us to do anything that He will not be totally involved in Himself. A study of Gideon, both from DeAnna's article and by returning to the Book of Judges will help quiet our fears and doubts.

In our second article this month, "For Such a Time as This…," Pastor Thom Mollohan points our attention towards Esther. From her story we learn that God has created us to be able to respond to all the situations of life we face, no matter how daunting. The moment for discipleship, Christ-like living, and, even heroic action, is now. The opportunities lay before us with every step we take. Esther, "in spite of her background, her limitations, and her fears," was called to step forward and accept the role of Queen so that, through her Christ-like example, lives would be saved and God's kingdom assured.

Finally, as I have pondered living a life that is responsive to God and one that will lead the world to Him, I recently find myself returning rather frequently to a verse from Isaiah. Whenever we feel we are falling short of being Christ-like and whenever we face feelings of inadequacy, these words should provide hope and renewed determination for us all: "but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31 NRSV)

A call into Christ-like living is a call to fly like eagles and to soar to new heights that only God can make possible. Fear not your inadequacies and short comings for the Lord is with you and His glory shall be revealed through you for all to see.
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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