This morning I had to snort when the thing that God used to hit me was this truth.
You know how Paul says, "I urge you, then, be imitators of me" (1 Cor. 4:16). Well, somehow I have never heard or caught that this is embedded in a section where Paul is talking about how God was using him and the apostles as an "exhibition" or "spectacle" for the world, angels, and men. Paul then lists off that they were fools for Christ's sake. They were weak, disreputed, thirsty, poorly dressed, buffeted, homeless, laboring, reviled, persecuted, slandered, and viewed as refuse! (1 Cor. 4:10-13). Oh and I urge you then be imitators of me!
Oh my! Personally, I do not like that list. When I hear about being an imitator of Paul, I want to focus on writing and speaking the truth with a profound clarity. I don't want to focus on suffering and struggles. Yet, this is the list Paul gave when he said, "Be an imitator of me."
I don't know about you, but I know I sure fall short in my imitation of Paul much less Jesus.
Paul reminds us that the kingdom does not consist of talk, but it comes in power. See, he did not persevere through these hardships alone. He had Christ in Him and the power of His Resurrection at work. This is what Paul wants us to imitate. No matter what comes our way to surrender ourselves to God and let His power manifest itself in us and through us.
The reality is life is hard. Relationships are a struggle even when we love someone. No one is exempt from suffering. We all suffer. But, how we suffer matters. This is the key distinction. Do I do it with grumbling and complaining or do I do so by the power of Christ in me?
I admit it I don't always get it right. Ugh. Paul says it is required of stewards in the mysteries of God to be found faithful (1 Cor. 4:1). So when you mess up, pick yourself back up. Acknowledge it, bring it to God, and ask Him to help you to walk in His power and not your own.This is how we can join in being the imitators of Christ just like Paul.