1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”
I never quite understood Paul’s words until now where I can relate with his situation in why he said those words and the intense emotions he must felt when he said those words. To know His word is one level, but to see those words coming to life is a whole new level.
Paul planted many churches and I can imagine how it must have been difficult for him when he had to move on to his next assignment. He planted churches not by franchising but for each church community, he personally laid down his life as a seed for God to germinate and develop into a plant to give birth to a church just as Jesus did.
One concern: What happens next?
Would the purity of the gospel be eroded after he leaves. Would people slip back into trusting in the law (religion) over the grace of God for their salvation? Would they live according to their flesh or walk in the Spirit?
He implored, IMITATE ME as I imitate Christ. He meant please do not compromise on the standard of His word that I have set with my teachings and my example lived out during my time with you. That is how you should also live your life sold out for Christ and the gospel.
Second concern: Who will they follow?
After Paul move on, it would be possible for the community to be at lost in the transition. And at such a state, it would be easy for people to follow or look to people or personalties over Christ Himself.
Paul implored, imitate me as I IMITATE CHRIST. He meant please follow Christ as your priority like how I have. Paul wasn’t part of the original 12 disciples or apostles of Jesus. Although he submitted to them, but he did not blindly follow any of them. For e.g. when Peter erred, Paul did not hesitate to correct Peter.
I can imagine the clout, reputation and superior status the original apostles such as Peter or John must have had. Almost everyone would have readily followed and obeyed them at a command. But Paul wasn’t into that. He stood his ground on His word and had such an intimacy with God that gave him the strong loyalty and obedience to Christ first to the point even in the face of death (he was beheaded for the gospel).
So today, let the words of Paul not just be a reminder to follow and trust in Christ alone, but also an inspiration to continually challenge you to live your life in such a way that you are able to persuade and convince others to imitate you because those around you can see Christ in you!