I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual learner. I need to watch someone do the thing I am trying to learn and then mimic them. That’s been the case with sports, playing the guitar and trying to fix things around the house (watching youtube). I’m a visual learner.
I’m currently preaching through the book of Philippians on Wednesday nights to our youth and what hit me is, we must be visual learners as we follow Christ. We need to have relationships with Christ-followers who can be a visual Christ-like example for us so we can watch and learn. We need to learn by watching someone follow Christ. Yes, we should read our Bibles and pray and go to church, but a huge part of being a disciple of Jesus is watching and learning from someone following Jesus.
In Philippians 3:17, Paul says “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”
We need to imitate someone who is imitating Jesus. Paul isn’t arrogant, he is simply confident that he’s following Jesus. Leaders are leaders because they follow the one perfect Leader, Jesus Christ. And because Paul follows Jesus, he can say, imitate me. If you imitate someone who is imitating Jesus, then others can imitate you. It’s a domino effect. It’s people following people following Jesus. It’s disciples making disciples and that’s what Jesus intended.
If you don’t have someone that you are following and learning from, maybe it’s time to seek that out. Find someone who has walked with Christ longer than you and spend time with them. Ask them questions. Watch them. Mimic them. Are they perfect? No way. Will they disappoint you? Of course. But follow with grace as you take note of good Godly things they do and copy them.
Now…we know this in any other area of life. If you want to be an expert in something, you study under an expert. In academics, you study under a great professor. If you want to get better at basketball or football, you practice with people better than you, get a good coach. If you want to play an instrument, you watch and mimic someone who is really good. If you want to learn a profession, you train under someone who has mastered those skills.
But in Christianity for some reason, we think it’s just an individual, personal thing that you do by yourself, just you and Jesus. But that’s not what the Bible says and you’ll never grow that way because following Jesus is a community project. The Christian life is all about relationships and you need to study under someone. Be an apprentice. Have a mentor. Get in a relationship with a Christ-follower where you are learning and growing closer to Christ because you can simply imitate what they do.
Don’t just copy anyone who says they are a Christian. It needs to be someone like Paul described in the verse: Those who walk according to the example. In other words, they follow the Bible. They read, submit to and obey the Bible. I would also suggest that you have these kinds of relationships within your local church body. That way, you see them weekly, you worship with them and you’re more likely to do life with them.
Maybe this week is a good time to try to spend time with someone in a discipling relationship. We all need to be discipled and we need to disciple someone, as we are learning and growing ourselves. You’ll never find the perfect person to disciple you and you’ll never be perfect enough to disciple someone else. So don’t wait for perfection. Just start building these relationships that push you to grow, so that you can push others to grow. If you don’t know where to start, start going to a community group and get to know the people of that group and the leader.