So, what are we to do while we wait for Christ's return or for our reunion with Him? I love to read Paul's letters and his teachings because they are such a blast of reality to me. He didn't pretend to be something he was not. He was a real, authentic person. He was not Christ, he did not try to be Christ. Prior to his conversion, he was a sinner, a zealot, a Pharisee, a Christian murderer. After his conversion, he was still very zealous for what he believed in...however, his belief system changed.
When God calls us to walk with him, we often try to make ourselves something we are not. We attempt to emmulate what we 'think' a Christian is supposed to look like, rather than allowing God to work through what He already made us to be. Now, that is not an excuse to slack off doing what we know we are supposed to do, it is to say, He has made us each different and longs to use us in different ways. That is what makes up the body of Christ. We cannot have 20 thumbs - we need feet, toes, lungs, eyes, ears, hands...you get the point. So, if a person is shy or reserved by God's design, then after they become His child, chances are they will not be out doing public speaking events!! He uses each of us the way He made us....it is true...He will occassionally call us out of our comfort zones, but He does not throw us to the wolves when He does! He is there beside us, providing everything we need, in His timing, all along the way.
So, back to the question at hand...what are we to do while we wait...let's look at Paul for what He says we should be doing, or better yet, what did he do while he waited? There's a whole lot of imitating going on!!
Let's start in Ephesians 5:1-2, "Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, as offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."
This is the most obvious, I believe, but also the most difficult! Of course we are to imitate Christ...but we are not perfect, are we?
So, where do we go from here?
Let's look at Hebrews 13:7, "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct."
This is referring to our leaders in our church, notice, however, that verse specifically says to consider the outcome of their conduct. These leaders are not super-human or without fault. That must be taken into consideration. We are to imitate their overall character qualities, not seek for their faults (because they WILL have some!). This is not an invitation to place anyone on a pedestal either. Christ is the ONLY one worthy of being set on high. This is a person who can guide you, provide godly wisdom and counsel to you. Don't forget, just because someone has been a Christian for 20+ years does not mean they are mature in their faith or even worthy to be imitated. You MUST "consider the outcome of their conduct".
Next, we will moved on to what I feel like is a very bold step:
1 Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
1 Corinthians 4:14-16, "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you mights have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do hot have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, imitate me."
Philippians 3:17, "Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern."
Philippians 4:9, "the things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you."
1 Thessalonians 1:6, "And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit."
Wow, how many of us are willing to step out and tell someone, follow me because I am following Christ? Did you know that is what we are supposed to be doing while we wait? Did you know that you already have people following you? No matter what your life circumstances are, someone is watching you and you are influencing their life. So, why not be intentional about it?
There is one more verse I want us to pay close attention to, 1 Timothy 4:12, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
Timothy was very mature for his age, he had to earn his respect in order to be taken seriously as he proclaimed God's truth. Are you or do you know any teenagers who are wise beyond their years? Are you encouraging them to be an example in the words they speak, their conduct of daily living, the way and manner in which they love or sacrifice for others, in their faithfulness or commitments or in their sexual purity? If you aren't, who is? Most likely no one. When we see opportunities to pour into young lives, we should jump on it! (Not to be mistaken with jumping on them!!!) Encourage them, come along side them. God has gifted so many of our young people, but we often take them for granted and push them to the back to be with the 'youth' thinking they can contribute later. Have you ever thought of getting a few people together and sponsoring a mature youth to go on a life-changing mission trip? What an impact that would make!!
So, what are we to do while we wait?
1. BE imitators of Christ
2. Encourage others to follow us (imitate us) as we imitate Christ
3. Encourage those God sets before us in specific, life-altering ways.
Until next time...
In Christ alone,