Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do…Galatians 4:12 NLT
So I urge you to imitate me. 1 Corinthians 4:16 NLT
Why is Paul telling us to be like him? Aren’t we supposed to follow Jesus as our only example?
There’s a story of a man who was trying to share Jesus with an atheist every day. Finally the atheist had heard enough and told the man he would let him say one more sentence about Jesus, and after that he did not want to hear any more. If you could only say one sentence about Jesus, what would you say?
Knowing he could not say anything about Jesus after one sentence, he had to choose his words carefully, so he told the atheist, “He’s like me.” When I heard this story, my first thought was that was a very prideful thing to say! Who goes around saying “Jesus is like me?” But the man was not prideful. He was sincere. According to the story, the atheist told the man, “Well if He is like you, I want to learn more about Him.”
The man chose his words carefully, because he knew that even though he might not be able to talk to the man about Jesus, the man would still be watching him. It’s been said of children, but I believe it is also true of adults, that while they may not always be listening to us, they are always watching us. And to answer the question, Who goes around saying, “Jesus is like me?” The answer is, everyone who calls themselves a Christian.
While Paul says, “imitate me” in the next verse he says, “I follow Christ.” 1 Corinthians 4:17 NLT
Paul makes it more clear what he meant here.
And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT
Paul wanted people to follow him only as he follows Christ. While Jesus told us to follow Him and not other Christians, we still have a powerful influence.
Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed, and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others in blessing or in cursing. -Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Page 340.
How does your influence affect how people think about Jesus? Can people honestly say Jesus is like you?
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT