By Rev Syd Osenbaugh
The Healing Place (Nashville Assembly of God)
(Hear this with a lively tune) We’re following the leader, the leader, the leader – we’re following the leader wherever he may go! Thus begins a children’s game that is familiar to almost everyone who was raised in America. The children select one to be the ‘leader’ and the others line up behind. The leader cavorts through the yard (or wherever it is that the game is being played) acting out all types of antics. The objective is for everyone in the line to mimic exactly what the leader is doing.
While it may sound incredibly simplistic, that is a fairly accurate picture of what it is to follow Jesus. He is, without question, the leader! Being a follower of Jesus means focusing on the Lord, seeking to know Him and what He is doing, then striving to be like Him in every way.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, summed it up very succinctly:
Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.
He was proposing a definite ‘follow the leader’ type of scenario. In the childhood game when one cannot see the leader clearly then the solution is to follow the actions of the one directly in front of you. Of course, that requires hoping that the person in front of you is accurately following the example that they can see.
As believers in Jesus Christ, those who would follow His lead and encourage others to do the same, a great responsibility is levied on our shoulders. There will be those who are watching our example, hoping to learn more about the Jesus that we serve. They need to see a clear demonstration of the character of Christ. How can they learn what it is to follow Jesus – who they may not yet be able to see – if we are not correctly imitating Him?
Paul’s words are staggering when examined in depth. He was essentially telling the young believers to watch his every move, listen to his words, see his actions – – – and do the same. That was the way that they could grow closer to Jesus. Of course, at the same time Paul was intently studying the Lord and learning all he could from an ever deepening relationship with Him. Paul was not perfect, but he was mimicking the One who was. When his actions fell short, he sought forgiveness. When he didn’t measure up, he recognized the need to change his ways. And it was that example that he displayed for those who were coming behind him.
It wasn’t about perfection. The Christian life is an ongoing process from the time we embrace Jesus, seeking His forgiveness for our sins, to the day we ultimately join Him in Heaven. Jesus – our Leader, the One we follow – is setting a perfect example. We imitate what we see Him doing, and what we see those who are following Him closely doing, and in the process become more and more like Him.
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