Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (Cor 11:1)
The church at Corinth to whom Paul was writing this statement included some Jews, but was largely composed of Gentile converts, from a wide variety of different backgrounds. This young church was composed of both men and women, the majority from a lower social status or even slaves, but also some who were more privileged and powerful, and even some of noble birth.To reinforce Paul’s teaching to this young group of early believers, he asked them to imitate him as he imitated Christ. This was no idle boast but a statement that Paul’s life was a living demonstration of the message he preached.
As he wrote these words, ‘Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ’, I wonder if Paul remembered a time, many years before, when he himself witnessed a man ‘imitate’ Christ. Paul was privileged to witness this powerfully in the life of a man called Stephen. Stephen was a man who was;
...full of God’s grace and power, (and) performed great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8)
However, it was not only in his life that Stephen ‘imitated’ Jesus. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and faced death by stoning. As Stephen follows Jesus’ example of martyrdom, notice three things:
Paul watched on that fateful day when Stephen ‘imitated’ Christ. It was undoubtedly something he would remember for the rest of his life. Even today, “Stephen’s testimony still stands as a beacon, a light to a lost and dying world.” (gotquestions.org)
Friends, if we want to help young Christians around us to mature, we need to be like Paul and Stephen; we need to imitate Christ.
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