“Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us (Philippians 3:17).”
The Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Philippi sound downright bombastic today. “Join in imitating me.” Paul sets his own life up as a model for discipleship and invites the church to mimic him. These words recall a similar invitation he gave to the Corinthians: “Follow me as I follow Christ.” What in the world is going on here? Are these the words of an arrogant, self-centered leader? Is Paul simply lacking in all humility. Hardly. A careful reading of Paul’s letters reveals a man who was profoundly in touch with his own weaknesses. No, what we have here is a man who had become utterly confident in the transforming power of Christ, a man who was walking by the authority of Christ’s Spirit and who was so assured of the renewing energy of the new creation that he could, without qualms, invite others to imitate him. After all, Paul was really bragging about Christ! He was simply inviting others to be on the same journey that was so completely changing him.
Here’s a simple principle of the Christian life: Transformed people transform people. People who are being renewed will spread renewal. This will sometimes be intentional, as when a person deliberately sets out to mentor another; or when a person leads a small group or teaches a class. But this is also an organic fact, happening when we’re not even aware of it. People who are being transformed will rub off on other people. The aroma of renewal is magnetic and attractive. Jesus told his disciples that “you are the light of the world.” He said this not because of their personal charisma or charm, but because they were growing to reflect the light of God. And that is true in every day and every age. Renewed people spread renewal. Let your light so shine!