Have you ever thought about your life being a spiritual prototype?
The Bible speaks to the subject of our lives being an example for others to follow. In 1 Timothy 4:12 we read, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Titus 2:7-8 says, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” Our lives are to be so beyond reproach that absolutely nothing can be found in us that would diminish our witness for Christ; absolutely nothing!
Paul said to a church, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). He also said to the church in Philippi, “Brethren, join in following my example” (Philippians 3:17). Paul was putting his life on display as an example for other Christians to follow. Just imagine if you stood before a group of Christians and told them to replicate you in the way that you speak, the way you treat people, in your understanding of Christian doctrine, in your attitudes and temperament, in your faith, in your conduct, and in the way that you love. The implication would be: “Look no further than my life if you want to see what Jesus really looks like.” No doubt many of us, including myself, are cringing right now.
Yet, the word example (tupos) in the New Testament carries the idea of a model that can be imitated. One expositor illustrated this word as being a prototype from which all the copies would be replicated. My father was a carpenter, and later in his life he made wood crafts. Very often he designed a pattern to be used to shape copies. In a spiritual sense, God desires for our lives to be lived in such a manner that people can see what Christ looks like in human flesh.
I’m challenged by Acts’ account of Paul sharing his testimony before Festus and King Agrippa. Standing before this great assembly of prominent people, Paul shared his encounter with Christ while on the way to Damascus. Without fear, he “uttered words of sober truth” hoping to make a difference in the lives of all who listened (see Acts 26:25). The response from King Agrippa was very interesting and depending on how you translate the verse, it might indicate that he was personally challenged to make a decision because of Paul’s message. In Acts 26:28 (NIV) Agrippa asked: “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul’s response is what I want to underscore. He stated, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains” (emphasis mine, Acts 26:29). He used his own life as an example for everyone in the audience to imitate. His life was the illustration of what Christ had accomplished and it was a good enough illustration for everyone in the crowd to follow.
I hope that each of us can use our own lives as an illustration of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. I would hope that no matter who we might be testifying to, people could see the Christ we’re talking about in the way that we live. We should be the living examples of Jesus that gives credence to the good news that we preach. If we proclaim that he delivers from sin, fear, bondage, worry, anxiety, and strongholds, then our lives should exemplify that message.
Please don’t send me emails and messages telling me that no one is perfect. Outside of Jesus, we’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Roman 3:23). I’m probably more aware of my faults and issues than anyone, but isn’t it time we stop making excuses? Let’s not diminish the work of salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit by giving excuses as to why we’re not what the Bible indicates we can be.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). I realize that there is a maturation process with fruit until it’s fully ripe. By that I mean that we might not be the complete examples of Christ that we need to be today, but tomorrow we should be closer and so on. One day I hope that we all could say with Paul, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
My challenge is to cry out for a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Seek Jesus, His righteousness, and the kingdom every moment of your day. Consume the Word and allow it to become your reality. Allow Christ to transform your mind, shape your heart, and adjust your lifestyle until you look just like Him. Without Jesus Christ, we have nothing worthy of following, but with Him we can do all things including becoming the examples that He can use as lights in a dark world.
Jesus, get me out of the way so that you can be seen. When people look at me I pray that they will see you, amen