Have you ever wondered whom you should look to as a model of your Christian life?
I mean the obvious super-spiritual answer is that we are to look to Jesus. And Jesus is our example. Hebrews 12:2 says we are to look to Jesus because he is the author and finisher of our faith.
What Does That Look Like
But for some people, especially early in their faith walks, it can be a little difficult to relate to a guy who walked the earth two thousand years ago in an agrarian society with no electricity, no internet, and no cell phones.
And some people are wired to learn best when they can see something with their physical eyes first. There are some folks who have a hard time seeing with their eyes of faith when they first start following Jesus because it’s something they’ve never really done before.
These are the people who ask, “What does that look like?” They may only ask the question in their own hearts. But if they are particularly brave and honest they’ll ask others the question.
Somewhere along the way the church moved away from the practical faith we see in the book of Acts. These days far too many people hyper-spiritualize what it means to be a Christian to the point that many can no longer relate to what they are told it means to follow Jesus.
The focus in many churches today is that all the members appear holy. So people put a spiritual face on things every Sunday morning pretending that they don’t have any problems. A married couple may have been fighting and screaming at each other their entire drive to church. But the moment they pull into the church parking lot they put on their church faces and act as if everything is perfect in their lives with no problems whatsoever.
As a result the church today is seen as irrelevant and impractical by many.
That is in stark contrast to the messy, practical faith we see being exercised in the early church on the pages of the book of Acts.
WWPD? (What Would Paul Do?)
Not that long ago folks were going around asking WWJD? The idea was to ask yourself what would Jesus do? in situations in an effort to help you to respond in godly ways to the things life threw at you.
That’s all well and good. But the Apostle Paul took a different approach when he wrote to the believers in Philippi. Here’s what he said.
The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. — Philippians 4:9
Paul said that they should use him as the example. He lived his faith in front of the church so visibly that they could think about how they saw Paul respond to situations and do the same things he did.
On the face of it, that seems a bit arrogant doesn’t it?
I mean I wouldn’t feel comfortable if someone started selling WWCD? bracelets to get people asking What Would Chris Do?
Yet that’s exactly what is supposed to be going on in our believing world today. Well, except for the bracelet part. The church is supposed to be full of mentors who are showing less experienced people how it really works.
It’s Called Discipleship
Jesus intended that we would be walking out this Christian life visibly alongside other believers in such a way that they can see our godly behavior and use it as a model in their own lives. This exactly what Paul told Timothy to do.
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. — 2 Timothy 2:2
Timothy was supposed to pass down the things he saw and heard from Paul to people who would in turn pass them down to others.
That word commit means to deposit or entrust. It goes far beyond simply telling someone something. Instead Paul wants Timothy to showing them, living it out in front of them. And it also means we are to show them how to live it out in front of others too.
Get Rid of the Church Face
When we finally get rid of the whole idea that when it comes to the church it’s all about keeping up appearances so that everyone else thinks we’re holy holy and start living our lives honestly and transparently in front of other believers, that’s the moment we will finally start fulfilling the great commission Jesus gave us before he left this earth.
Jesus told us to go and make disciples. (Matt 28:19) He didn’t say we were to just go and get people to convert to Christianity. There’s a big difference between a disciple and a convert.
Disciples are mentored and shown first hand how it looks to walk out their faith in a practical way in our messy world and helped along the way. Converts are told everything has changed and then abandoned, usually before they see any real change in their lives.
It’s up to each one of us to live out our faith so others can see how it really works.
So let me ask you this. Who are you being an example of the faith for today?