The epistle reading for Lent 2 was from Paul's letter to the Philippians. He wrote, "Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us." (Phil. 3:17 ESV) The sermon spoke of imitation, speaking of imitating Paul and other faithful Christians who have lived their lives in faith each day. Paul had said in the 1st letter to the Corinthians, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (1 Cor. 11:1 ESV) Why does Paul think so highly of himself that we are to imitate him? He doesn't. He isn't saying to us that he thinks he is such a powerful and wonderful person that we should be like him. Instead, in the letter to the Philippians, Paul was showing that we are all struggling to live in Christ. We look at the people that the Lord places in our lives, see the struggles they have, see how they are living in faith, how they are focusing on Christ rather than upon themselves and their sinfulness, and we imitate that life. Paul is saying, "Imitate Christ as you live in faith."
Perhaps it is because it is fresh in my mind, but this morning, as I was studying through the Word, I kept running across this idea of "imitating" others. In Ephesians 5 we read, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children." (Eph. 5:1 ESV) The writer to the Hebrews says, "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." (Hebrews 13:7 ESV) Imitating those who have shown us the faith - Paul, Peter, John, James, and those who have shown us Christ as we have grown in faith. Imitate their faith. Live in Christ. Love in Christ. Be like Christ.
We cannot do that by ourselves. We need the Holy Spirit, working through the Means of Grace (Word and Sacraments), to empower us to live in that faith. We need the Spirit's guidance so that we can imitate those who lived in faith before us. None of us can live this way without the Spirit's power. None of us can imitate anyone of faith without first being in the faith ourselves, being fed from the Word, standing in the waters of our Baptism, filled with the power of Christ in His body and blood.
Imitation. Who are you imitating today?