Imitators of Christ
This article was originally published in the July 2013 Newsletter.
I grew up in a tiny town in southern Michigan in the middle of farm country. We lived on Main Street and had a cornfield in our backyard. I loved that simple, hard-working lifestyle. As an adult, one of my best friends owned five hundred acres planted with corn and soy beans. I loved working on his farm with him. He was a dear friend and father figure to me. I highly respected him. A big part of me wanted to be just like him. The longer I knew him and the more time I spent with him, the more I started to look and think like him. I began to understand the business of farming and listened to the grain market updates on the radio to learn the current trading price of corn. I wore jeans, work boots, and a John Deere ball cap. Over time I grew in my knowledge of farming and was able to keep his entire operation going if needed. I even drove the semi to the mill, fully loaded with corn. Those were some of the best times for me and I remember them with a sense of longing.
The interesting thing is this: the more I loved my friend, the more time I spent with him, and as I spent more time with him, the more I began to look and act like him.
This is the essence of being a follower of Christ. I love him and love spending time with him. The more I grow in my relationship with him, the more I look and act like he would act. This is the heart of discipleship.
My natural tendency is just the opposite. I think that if I discipline myself, I can work hard and be a better Christian. But that is not the way it works! Instead, I focus on my relationship with God, and as I grow in that relationship, I find myself wanting to spend more time with the One I love. When I spend time with Jesus, I find myself becoming more like him. I become a disciple of Christ, living my life the way he lived his. I start to look like him in my actions. I begin to think like he thinks. What is important to him becomes important to me. In the end, I become an imitator of Christ and my life is completely changed.
Consider these verses:
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1, ESV).
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord” (I Thessalonians 1:6, ESV).
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (Paul writing in his first letter to the church in Corinth, I Corinthians 11:1, ESV).
I pray that you are growing in your relationship with God. I hope you are falling in love with him so that you will want to spend more time with him. As you spend more time with him, I believe you will find yourself becoming more like him. In the end, let us all be imitators of Christ.
My farmer friend passed away several years ago. I still think of him in the spring when the fields are plowed and the smell of freshly turned soil fills the air. I find myself wondering what the price of corn will be this year and how the crops are growing in those fields in southern Michigan. And sometimes I still wear my old farmer hat just to remember how it felt to work those fields. In my heart, I guess a part of me will always be a farmer.
But today I have a different love, and slowly I am becoming a little more like Christ every day. I still have a long way to go, but I love spending time with him and I want to be just like him.
Join me, won’t you? Fall in love with God. Spend time with him. Become an imitator of Christ.