"Join in imitating me"?! Is Paul crazy?! On a daily basis, I think "oh, I hope God can teach and train my kids because I'm a horrible example. Or if I have a rough "China day", I think, "well, I've messed up my witness with them."
I want to be able to say to those around me "imitate me". How in the world can Paul make such a claim? It's because he has confidence in the Holy Spirit.
We have fooled ourselves into believing that not having confidence in ourselves (a good thing), that it also means that we shouldn't have confidence in the Holy Spirit. We don't say that outright, but we treat him as our assistant through life. He depend on him for job interviews, tests, good health and scheduling our future. But when He does something that makes no sense to us on earth, we usually view Him as not good, or not really in charge.
We need to be bold in our proclamation that we are His children. We see people doing that all the time. Last night, we watched the movie "The Contract" with Denzel Washington and John Cusak. In one scene, a rich young man gets assassinated. As the two assassins approach him with some blackmail, the young man's response is "Do you know who my Father is?" (and...then they push him in front of a bus...if you're curious.)
When the world looks at us and accuses us and mocks our faith, our natural response in our minds (in a non-flippant way) should be "but, do you know who my Father is?" But instead, we cower in a corner because of fear or inability. We should be prepared at any time to charge the hill in a steady assurance that God will meet us at the top. Already having slain the enemy. Already having won the battle. Satan has used this world to shake our confidence in the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have a 'moment of hesitation' when we desire to follow Christ boldly. And it's in that 'moment of hesitation' that the flood of questions rise to the surface:
1 What if I don't know the answers?
2. If others only knew what is going on in my mind.
3. Does God really care enough to walk me through this?
4. How will I look to those around me?
5. And we say this subtly in our paralyzed steps of faith: is God really big and sovereign enough to take complete control over this?
We have been stopped in our tracks by self-confidence, self-help and good feelings. When really, it's the Holy Spirit, given to us by the most powerful God of the universe that is in charge and control of our days.
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." Philippians 3:12