By Ruth Jensen Zschoche
Lectionary reading for 3/11/2022: Psalm 27; Genesis 14:17-24; Philippians 3:17-20
Selected passage for reflection: Philippians 3:17-21
Philippians 3:17-21 (New Testament for Everyone)
(17) So, my dear family, I want you, all together, to watch what I do and copy me. You’ve got us as a pattern of behavior; pay careful attention to people who follow it.
(18) You see, there are several people who behave as enemies of the cross of the Messiah. I told you about them often enough, and now I’m weeping as I say it again. (19) They are on the road to destruction; their stomach is their god, and they find glory in their own shame. All they ever think about is what’s on the earth.
(20) We are citizens of heaven, you see, and we’re eagerly waiting for the saviour, the Lord, King Jesus, who is going to come from there. (21) Our present body is a shabby old thing, but he’s going to transform it so that it’s just like his glorious body. And he’s going to do this by the power which makes him able to bring everything into line under his authority.
Do you have someone you want to imitate? When you ask a young child who they want to be like when they grow up, they often answer they want to be like their mother or father. Ask a teen and the answer will likely be some sports star or music star. But as we get older might there still be someone we want to model our lives after?
In this passage Paul is telling the Philippians to watch what he is doing and copy him. He is telling them that they have a pattern of behavior they can follow.
My mother died a little over three years ago. She was almost 95 years old. She is someone who imitated Jesus for most of her adult life. She spent time in the Word daily, she knew Him intimately. As she aged, she suffered from dementia. But, she never changed into someone we didn’t know. I believe that she knew deeply, Jesus so well, and had imitated Him for so long that her spirit remembered who she wanted to be like even if she didn’t always remember my name. She wanted to be like her Savior! We described her as being stuck on sweet. Everyone who knew her wanted to be around her. Even with dementia she was still a witness for Jesus.
In our world, it is so easy to look to those who are popular or well-known. We find ourselves imitating the wrong people! But Paul tells us that these are people who are enemies of the Messiah. They are on roads that lead to destruction, they follow anything that appeals to them and this becomes their gods.
Our future citizenship with God isn’t here on earth, it’s in heaven. However, even here on earth, we should want to live a life that points to our citizenship in heaven. My mother eagerly waited for heaven even though she lived many years on earth. She knew her final citizenship was in heaven and she lived her life as an example of the transformation that comes when we imitate the One who came to save us. I want to be an imitator of Jesus like my mother was. I want to be known as someone who knows Jesus well. What about you?
Is there someone in your life who is an imitator of Jesus? As you reflect on this passage, how might someone describe you? Are you a person that others want to imitate, one who is imitating Jesus? Is there someone who you want to imitate, someone who clearly imitates Jesus? Ask God to show you deep within your soul, who you are imitating.
Lord, life on earth is not easy. We are surrounded by so many people and things trying to get our attention and our focus. Keep our eyes on you and those we know who are following you. Show us how to be imitators of You so that those who see us want to know You and follow you better. Amen.
About the Author
Ruth has recently retired from a position in church ministry. She is a Spiritual Director and Certified Enneagram Coach. She is mom to one son, a daughter-in-love and Omi to two beautiful granddaughters. She loves to run, bike, swim, read and spend time mentoring women.