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Pointers along the way #411

Imitating Christ
- Jacob Ninan

Many people, including non-Christians, talk about imitating Christ, or doing what He did. Many others try to follow a practice of asking themselves, "What would Jesus do?" (WWJD) when they come into different situations. This is all right when we are young in Christ. But as we grow up we need to understand that the emphasis in the Bible is about becoming like Christ rather than doing what He did.

We must realise that Jesus was also God when He was on earth and that there are things He did that we cannot do, such as dying for our sins. Also there are things He did which were specific to His mission on earth that we cannot imitate--or which we need to understand the spirit of rather than imitate the action. For example when the time came for Him to die He refrained from escaping death by keeping quiet when He was accused. This doesn't mean that we should do similarly whenever we are accused because our situations may be different.

Many people try to imitate His miracles, casting out of demons, healing, etc., especially thinking that they ought to do more than He did (Jn.14:12). But the important thing is to become like Christ and that is what gives value to what we do. The attitudes of our mind, and the thoughts and intentions of the heart mean more for God than our works (1Co.4:5).

The apostle Paul exhorts us to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1Co.11:1). If we take this verse alone we will miss the context. If we look at the previous verse we will understand how he followed Christ. Paul said that instead of seeking some advantage for himself he was always trying to see how he could benefit the others, especially that they should get saved (1Cor.10:33). He also said in another place that he did everything he could for the others so that they could be made complete, mature and perfect in Christ (Co.1:28). Contrast this with people who are trying to do things that Jesus did, combined with seeking to build a name or make money for themselves!

Paul also said why he served Christ. His goal was that through everything he did the name of God should be glorified (1Co.10:31). If we seek our own glory while seeking to do what Jesus did, is that going to be acceptable to God?

The transformation has to be inside our hearts and minds first, before we are prepared to serve Him. This is also an ongoing process. To the extent that our mind has been transformed in this way, our service will also be pure and pleasing to God. But if our heart is not right, whatever 'great' things we may do for the Lord, they will all be like wood and hay that will be burned up and destroyed on the last day (1Co.3:12-15). Perhaps in addition to asking ourselves, "What would Jesus do?" we should also ask, "Do I want to bless the others or impress them?" and "Am I seeking for my own advantage or theirs?" The 'great' things that we do may impress others, but only what we do from a good heart will impress God. And they are the things that will remain.


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