Before jumping into part 2, at the prompting of a friend I realize that I should probably define the term heterodoxologist which I used in passing in part 1 of “Be Imitators of Me.” Heterodoxologist is a made up word for an individual who holds to a heterodox belief, a heterodox belief being a belief that is not completely against the primary Truths of Scripture (i.e. heresy), but it does run contrary to beliefs of lesser importance to orthodoxy. This is why it would be possible to call me a heterodoxologist, but not a ‘heretic, because I implied that seating guests at the Olive Garden was similar to spreading the gospel across all of the Roman Empire. As much as I enjoy making up words, I recognize that no one (in their right mind) will begin using words I’ve made up in everyday conversation.
Be Imitators of Me (Part 1) was an attempt to show the importance of exemplification, or practicing what you preach,” in multiplying disciples. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, one of the verses quoted in Part 1, Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ Jesus.” Part 2, therefore, is focused on the what and how of imitating Christ Jesus. This is not a very detailed post, outlining every single thing that Jesus did and how we can follow His example, but it is a humble attempt to remind myself and anyone who reads this what is involved in being a disciple and making disciples.
If you are a discipler, then you are asking a fellow brother or sister in Christ to follow your example as you follow the example set by Jesus. Anyone who recognizes this will think long and hard, not only about how to be the example to follow, but more importantly about how to follow the example set by Christ. In other words, you had better know your stuff, or you’ll be enrolling in the school of hard knocks really soon, learning more from your mistakes than from the Master.
One of the least effeminate, sappy romantic comedies I have ever seen is the movie A Knight’s Tale with the infamous and tragically brilliant actor, Heath Ledger. In the movie, Ledger is a former knight’s squire who falsifies documents and assumes the identity of a knight after his master dies. Through the course of the movie, this peasant-turned-superstar falls madly in love with Jocelyn, a lady of the class of which he is now a fraudulent member. In one scene of the movie, Sir Ulrich (Ledger) attends a ball with the Lady Jocelyn and is called upon to teach everyone a dance from his homeland of Gelderland. Of course, Sir Ulrich has only learned to dance that very day, and after a few bumbling instructions, Lady Jocelyn comes to the rescue and spontaneous choreographed dance ensues (further deepening the ridiculosity of this period piece by setting the dance to David Bowie’s “Golden Years”).
What’s the point? If you’re going to claim to be something, make sure you know how to back up your claims (because Lady Jocelyn will not always be there to rescue you from embarrassment). Fortunately for anyone desiring to make disciples, a wonderfully vivid record of Jesus’ actions and teachings are available for study in the canonized, biblical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and apostolic commentary on the actions and commands of Christ are available in the rest of the Bible’s New Testament. If you want to know what you’re supposed to do as a follower of Jesus Christ, the best place to look is the Bible. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Apply it. Allow it to not only transform your thoughts but also change how you live. And then help who you’re discipling by showing them how to let God’s Word transform them as well.
One final comment in this post deals with the context of 1 Corinthians 11:1 and how Paul was following the example of Christ. His entire approach, I believe, can be summed up in this verse: “So whether you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In context, we see that Paul’s motivation for all of his actions is the glory of God. Let this be an instructive verse that you can apply to all of your decision-making. Whenever you have a decision to make, whether great or small, ask this question: What will most glorify God? How will you know if something will glorify God? Read the Bible. Study it. The Bible, as the early Church Fathers taught, is “the face of God…for now.” If you want to know what is important to God, then study His Word. And if you are making a decision that has no bearing on God’s glory (like whether to eat Cheerios or Corn Flakes), then just do something. God’s glory is not affected by whether or not you ate your Wheaties in the morning. However, His glory will be reflected in how you treat your wife or husband, how you talk to your friends and coworkers, what your attitude is at work, and whether or not you visibly and internally display love for your God and your neighbor.