Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.
This verse has been sticking with me a lot today.
This reminds me of the many people that I look back on my life that have made me truly think, “Man, I really want to be like them.” Some were for a moment like a motivational speaker, Michael Pink, who told me off-camera one day during an interview that if you want to become a great and godly person, you have to let suffering refine you. Or mentors in tough times in my young life like my sixth grade teach Bob Anderson or family friend Derald Kruse. Some of those are lifetime examples of this, like my wife, my kids, and my parents.
All leaders in their own right, showing me the outcomes of their lives. And it’s this that makes me desire to be like them, follow their faith.
And then there is the other side. Those people that have seen the church hurt them, people that call themselves followers of Christ alienate them, judge them, abuse them. They see the outcomes of these “leaders”, lay or ordained, and “consider the outcomes of their faith” and judge it maybe even rightly as something they do not want to follow.
I had so often thought “You can’t judge God based on the actions of the people that follow Him.” And to a certain extent that is true. God is holy and beyond all of our capabilities. However, it is to a certain extent a reality the world lives with. If the only people I met who followed Islam wanted to murder me for their faith, I do believe I would consider that and not want to imitate it.
Now, the church is made up of broken people. I’m broken, and sometimes when I feel the most whole and proud, God has to break me again. Why? Because He loves me and knows that my neighbors are watching, considering the outcomes of my faith, and judging whether they want to imitate it. And if God allows me to become full of pride and to create a string of bad “outcomes”, then it is both to the harm of me and to others watching me.
So, what is it that I am saying?
Authenticity in Christ and availability to our neighbor is key to leading others in the Lord. Notice I didn’t say leading others “to” the Lord. We must be willing to be broken by the Lord in order for us to look more like Christ, whom we imitate. And as we display an authentic faith community in Christ (not perfect but authentic), others will see the outcome of our faith together and desire to imitate it. That’s the first way we lead others in the Lord.
As we move into a period of maybe being a bit nervous about doing church in a way that may stretch us, remind yourself that we are playing an imitation game. We imitate Jesus because He is God in flesh. Others will imitate us imitating Him. And we want to be a community of authentic imitators. And, I believe, we will see people wanting to follow us following Him.
Transforming our cities. One person. One street. One Neighborhood at a time.