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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Following Jesus in an Age of Super Stars

The title of this post is misleading. When I mean Super Stars I don't mean the Hollywood crowd. I mean the Christian stars. Bear with me as I explain. When I was a new Christian I was immediately taken under my youth pastor's wings. I admired him a lot. Naturally, I began to imitate him, so much that I even sounded like him when I taught or preached. Those that know me can attest to this. This wasn't bad necessarily because I was young in my walk with God. I was a growing Christian. It was like a child that imitates his mom or dad. We imitate others we admire. It is natural. But as you grow up, you learn to be your own person. In fact, when you are mature, you are expected to be your own person. It is an anomaly to see people who are full grown adults imitating others to the point that you can't see who they really are. So now to the point I want to make.
We are Christians. In fact, the name comes from the book of Acts. It is there where the believers in Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11:26). It was a label applied to them because they followed Christ. So it is obvious that Christians follow Christ or Jesus Christ. But it is interesting to note that many Christians are still following or imitating the Super Stars of Christianity. I will restrain myself to mentioning names but there are many that follow the teachings of a particular person to the point that they speak like them and think like them. I remember our pastor who used to say that there were members of a particular church that used to say, "My pastor is Dr.____" They said with so much pride. There are many nowadays that have forgotten that we don't follow a man or a woman, we follow Jesus. You don't think this is true? Do a search on a particular preacher or teacher and see what people say (of course, they will have critics as well, but that is not the point of this blog). Observe what people say about the pastor of the church you attend. Go to a Christian Bookstore and see who are the Super Stars. Just take a look at Study Bibles with their names. I know, it is natural you say. Yes, but for how long? We must value those are gifted in teaching but we must understand that our role as Christians is to show ourselves approved as God's workman who accurately handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We must be like the Bereans (Acts 17:1) and examine everything we are taught by others. We compare what they say with what Scripture says. You will be surprised to find that not everything they say is clearly taught in Scripture. If not, then we know we must follow what the Scriptures say. I am often perplexed why people write the words (i.e. notes) a preacher says about Scripture as opposed to what their explanation of Scripture that is given.
Then there is the issue of imitation. The only one we imitate is Jesus. Beside Jesus, I only find one person in the Bible who said to imitate him, Paul the apostle, but he was clear as to who He was imitating (I Corinthians 11:1). We only imitate others to the degree they imitate Jesus. When we do something, we must follow what Jesus told us to do or God or the Holy Spirit tells us to do: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12) ESV
Be careful who you follow and who you call your teacher or master: "Neither be ye called masters; for one is you master, Christ." (Matthew 23:10). It is Jesus who calls you to follow him (Luke 18:22, Matthew 16:24, Mark 1:17)
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