Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Someone to Imitate

People are watching us. What do they see?

Among other evidences of holy life, he gave his clergy an inspiring example of self-discipline and continence, and the highest recommendation of his teaching to all was that he and his followers lived as they taught.

  - Bede, Ecclesiastical History, British, 8th century

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

  - 1 Corinthians 11.1

Bede was writing about Aidan, first abbot of the monastery on Lindisfarne, and a graduate of Colum Cille’s training school on Iona. Aidan set an example of godliness, discipline, careful teaching and scholarship, and fervent mission for the monks in his care – his Personal Mission Field. Those he trained grew up to be like him, as Bede admiringly observed.

They were doing nothing more than following the example of the apostle Paul, which he commends to every one of us. We are to imitate Paul, as he was imitating Jesus. This means spending more time reflecting on Paul’s example as we read about it in Acts and his epistles. As we think more deeply about this, and bring our own lives more into line with his, others will see something in us to imitate that could lead them to the higher ground of the life of faith.

This imitating others who were following Christ, and being an example to one another, was one of the aspects that lent such power to the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD). Leaders of that movement were linked in their souls, and they took seriously the duty of showing Jesus to one another, teaching, encouraging, and holding one another accountable for living for the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12). They could say of their commitment to one another as Paul said to the Corinthians, that they would gladly spend and be spent for their souls (2 Cor. 12.15). In many respects, they became lifelong mission partners in their labors together for the Lord.

Imitation is not simply the highest form of flattery. It’s a very potent instructional tool. So important is imitation to learning, that Peter and Paul insisted that Christian leaders should make good use of their personal example in helping others to grow as followers of Christ (cf. Acts 20.18-21; 1 Pet. 5.1-3). Every believer needs someone to imitate, someone who is imitating Jesus in all their ways.

And every one of us needs to remember that, whether we know it or not, people are watching us, and some will imitate our ways, whether for good or ill.

I wonder how comfortable we are at this moment in recommending ourselves as models of discipleship? “Follow me? Imitate me?” What is the next generation of the followers of Christ learning about discipleship by observing us?

This is the pattern and the paradigm God has established in the Church. Faithful men and women teach others, men teaching men and women teaching women, who teach others also (2 Tim. 2.1; Tit. 2.1-5). Prominent in that teaching is presenting an exemplary life of discipline, holiness, service, mission, and love (Phil. 4.9).

If we aren’t there, we should at least be asking ourselves, “Why?” To whom can I look for an example of what it means to follow Jesus? What’s keeping me from showing such an exemplary life to others? What is hindering us from taking our places in that long, unbroken chain of disciples who have shown others the way to follow Jesus, all the way down to our day?

These are questions worth reflecting on often. If we will take these questions seriously, perhaps we will begin to prepare and position ourselves for just such a way of life, a life of living what we profess, and teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom without apology.

Your example is always on display. Make sure it’s the kind of example that reflects Jesus to the people around you.

For Reflection
1. Who are the people most likely to be influenced by your example?

2. What can you do to be more conscious of and consistent in imitating Jesus in all your ways?

Psalm 26.1-3 (Aberystwyth: Jesus, Lover of My Soul)
Vindicate me, Lord on high; I have walked within Your Word.
Never wav’ring, though I sigh, I have trusted You, O Lord.
Prove me, Lord, prove even me! Test my heart and try my mind.
Let Your steadfast mercy be in the path for me to find.

Lord, give me someone to imitate, and let me be a model of discipleship for others, especially today as I…

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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