Follow Jesus - Like Paul
Commitment to Christ
1 Corinthians 11:1 - Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Could you imagine saying to someone "If you want to know what it looks like to follow Jesus, watch me!". Well, that's exactly what the apostle Paul was saying in this verse. It wasn't arrogance but a committed believer instructing other believers to follow Jesus in the same manner he did.
I want to ask you a question. Could you walk into church this Sunday and say the same thing? Imagine walking up to a brother or sister and saying "Imitate me in following Jesus". Feeling uncomfortable? Me too!
Whole books have been written about Paul so in no way can I be expansive today and cover all of his character and work, but I would like to point to three primary characteristics of Paul:
- He was committed to Jesus
The apostle Paul was a scholar of Judaism. He was fully committed to the Torah and the traditions. It was his identity and his life's work. He had studied under Gamaliel who was a leading authority within the Sanhedrin during the early first century. Paul was a truly committed, fully paid-up member of Judaism. Well... Until he met Jesus. When Paul met Jesus all of that identity, law-keeping (in order to gain something from God) and zeal he counted as rubbish. Jesus became his focus:
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ" - Philippians 3:8
There will have been many things that marked out your identity before you met Jesus. But if they don't help you follow Jesus and gain Him... throw them out and count them as rubbish. Easier said than done I know, but we can always work it out together! Which leads me to my next point.
- He was committed to people
Paul was a man that had a concern for peoples salvation. He went to the Jews and also to the Gentiles. He did it all for the sake of the gospel that he might share with them in its blessings! This was his passion and he showed it by being a servant regardless of a persons ethnicity, gender, religion or social status. He wanted them to know Jesus Christ!
"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them." - 1 Corinthians 9:19
Are you ready to make yourself a servant to all? Challenged again in your thinking? Me too! But together with the Lords help, he will do it.
- He was committed to mission
Paul travelled over 10,000 miles proclaiming the gospel. He went by land and sea through modern-day Israel, Syria, Turkey, Greece and into Europe. This man was committed to mission! Not only that he was under constant threat, but nothing would detract him from proclaiming the gospel.
"Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." - Corinthians 11:25-27
But he didn't stop until the day he died! He records that he is close to death in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 and explains he is waiting to be awarded a crown of righteousness which the Lord will give him! He is still talking about Jesus! He truly was unshakable!
If I can give you (and me) some advice. Imitate Paul in following Jesus. This truly would be some ground shaking, kingdom building commitment!
Daily Bible Reading: Acts 20:17-25
Prayer: Father thank you for the apostle Paul and the testimony of his life in Christ. Lord if we could only be a fraction as committed as him we would see a different church at Staines Baptist. Please Father, convict us to imitate Paul with our love, resources, time and strength for Jesus sake. Amen.