Imitating Christ

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Our theme mini-series right now is Growing in Faith. One of there is now way to grow in faith though without Imitating Christ.
There’s an old saying, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”
It means that one person admires another and wants to be like him or her.
We’ve seen our children dress up like their mom or dad, or even dress up like a superhero.
This morning we’ll look at what it means to imitate Christ and how we are to do it. Look at what Paul tells us.
1 Corinthians 11:1 AV
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

1. The Reasons for Imitation

Let’s look briefly at this word follower - which is our word today imitate.
This word follower means imitator - a copier; a forger. It’s the act of mimicking what we see another doing.
Paul tells us to imitate him, but ultimately to imitate Christ.
Jesus even told others to follow Him
John 13:15 AV
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

A. The Command of Scripture

1 John 2:6 AV
6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Here we come back to an area we studied before. In studying our theme verse, “we walk by faith, not by sight” we looked at how to walk.
This theme of walking will never be unnecessary for our Christian growth!
Walking as He walked mean we copy His footsteps, we go where he goes.
But not only do we go where He goes, we should act how He acts.
1 John 2:29 AV
29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
1 John 3:2–3 AV
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
Scripture commands and expects us to be like Christ. He is our standard, model, pattern. You don’t imitate that which is abstract, you imitate a reality.
In putting a puzzle together, or any host of IKEA products, we need a pattern to follow. Jesus is the pattern for life.
We mimic what we know of the life of Christ and what we know if His life is in the Bible.

B. It is the Goal of Our Salvation

Romans 8:29 AV
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
The goal of it all is to be like Christ. God said he wants us to be conformed to the image of His Son.
I shouldn’t be trying to be a better me, I should be trying to be a better Jesus.
And this is an ongoing process.
2 Corinthians 3:18 AV
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
If you need a life goal, this is the only one that matters.
“The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs - if they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself are simply a waste of time.”
So we should imitate Christ because we are commanded to and because it the the goal of our salvation.
But also, imitation of Christ

C. Provides True Joy

John 13:15–17 AV
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
This instruction of Jesus was given during the washing of the disciples feet. Jesus says this while in the role of a servant.
Joy is found in being like Jesus - in all aspects of life - but especially service.
An old preacher named Robert Murray M’Cheyne said this, “To gain entire likeness to Christ, I ought to get a high esteem of the happiness of it. I am persuaded that God’ happiness is inseparably linked with His holiness. Holiness and happiness are like light and heat…every sin is something away from my present enjoyment.”
Jesus tells us that we find true joy and happiness in acting like him. Why wouldn’t we be happy - its a command of God, and it is the goal of the Christian life.
Maybe the joy you need today is found in surrendering yourself and being more like Christ.
So we’ve seen the reasons for imitating Christ, let’s see what that look like.

2. The Marks of Imitation

We mentioned earlier about the pattern of His life, but we want to see the specifics of Jesus that we should be copying - we need to conform to His character.
Remember, the WWJD bracelets from the 90s, 2000s. The thought itself was pretty good. If you came to a situation, and weren’t sure what to do, well do what Jesus would do. It came from a book in the 1800s actually. But there were issues with it a bit as well - the one who started it was one of the fathers of the social gospel and modern theological liberalism, Charles Sheldon. There was so much emphasis on ethics and liberalism that there was a great loss to doctrinal purity and the words of Jesus.
But it’s still kind of a good question, WWJD? But I want to change that question a little bit.
What Was Jesus Like? What was the character of Jesus? See, character will drive our action or doing.
So let’s look at what Jesus was like, and we will see several great character qualities, or marks of imitation.

A. Humility

Philippians 2:5–7 AV
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
There were a few issues in the church at Philippi. There was some division and pride and Paul was writing them telling them to change their direction.
He gives them an example in this verse - be like Jesus - no reputation, form of a servant.
We’re also reminded of the footwashing and servant role of Jesus Christ.
John 13:14 AV
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
I don’t believe his point here was literal foot-washing - in his day this was one of the lowest tasks a servant could perform. It was a regular household task.
The point here is humility, serving others.
See also,

B. Compassion

Colossians 3:12–13 AV
12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Well now we see another mark of imitating Christ - compassion. Jesus was infinitely kind and forgiving. This is really hard for us.
Remember when Jesus saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion. Compassion should move us. Compassion in our hearts should cause us to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Jesus wanted came to make a difference in people, in their lives, in their eternal destination. And the motivator behind all of it was His compassion.

C. Generosity

2 Corinthians 8:7–9 AV
7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Jesus is so generous! Here we see another inward quality - a generous heart.
When humility is expressed it shows up as service.
When compassion is express it shows up as kindness and forgiveness.
When generosity is expressed it shows up as giving.
We should be a generous group of people. Not just in the area of finances but generous in our time, our support of each other, generous in our humility and compassion.
Jesus was a giver. He gave His life!
For God so loved that He gave! The gift of God is eternal life! it is the gift of God! The very essence of salvation itself is generous giving!

D. Love

What is Jesus like? What are the marks of imitation? Humility, compassion, generosity and of course love.
Ephesians 5:1–2 AV
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We had a message on walking in love, so we won’t exhaust that here. But there’s no way to talk about imitating Christ without talking about His love.
This is not a warm, fuzzy emotional feeling - although there can be some of that.
This is a self-sacrificing love.
John 13:34–35 AV
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
How will people know we’re Christians, followers, imitators of Christ…love?
It’s impossible to follow Christ without it. But what’s important is that we have all of these together. We need all of his graces, not just the ones that are easy for us.
So we’ve seen the reasons for imitating Christ, and now what it looks like when we are - finally lets see

3. The Method of Imitation

The how is always important. In order to be like Christ we must do this in a

A. Internal Correction

Any successful spiritual endeavour must begin on the inside. So many people try to get right with God by doing things on the outside - and that is important.
But we must start at the heart of the matter.
1 John 2:1 AV
1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
Note that we are children of God - children are like their Father. They are supposed to be!
But as soon as we are called children, we find that Jesus is called advocate (our lawyer, our forgiver).
There’s not a person here today that doesn’t need the gracious forgiveness of Christ.
We must look to him, we need his grace, his eternal, ever-flowing grace. We can’t be like Him, unless we honestly let him work on our hearts.
This is not some truth to post on your refrigerator or Facebook. This is something we need to be dealing with right now.
We’re his children - but sometimes we really don’t act like it - we’re selfish, petulant, and prideful - we need a forgiver.
1 John 2:24 AV
24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
Continue in the Son, and in the Father - we just talked about abiding in Him.
This inward look must occur first if there’s ever going to be any Christlikeness in us at all.
Then, we need,

B. Outward Conformity

To His Word
1 John 2:3–4 AV
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
We must conform to the Word of God - being like Christ means knowing and doing the Word.
This shows our love, that we truly believe what Jesus says. We understand that the Word of Christ are as important as the Actions of Christ.
So we conform to His word and then,
To Holiness
1 John 3:2 AV
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
we shall be like him. I’m not very much like Christ. But I want to be. I need to be kinder, more humble, more generous and loving.
I need to be holy - walking in purity as Christ does. I can’t make it 100% now on this earth but I can do my best. By His grace, His resurrection power in me, I can be like Him.
By denying self, loving others, walking as he would, I can be like Him.
When we see him, we shall be like Him, but we can be like Him today too.
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