So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings just as I passed them on to you. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
At first sight those words, spoken by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth, seem a bit bold, arrogant even. But upon closer scrutiny, we find out the church in Corinth was in trouble. The new believers in this ancient metropolis were struggling with their surroundings. All around them was corruption and every possible sin. They were feeling the pressure to fit in, to belong. They had heard of Christ, and believed in Him, but there was talk about freedom in Christ. What exactly did that mean? Freedom to do what? Whatever? So many things were vying for their attention. Immorality and idol worship were the norm. Did freedom mean anything goes?
The gospels had not yet been written, and Christ no longer walked on this earth. How could the new Christians in Corinth learn and know how God wanted them to live? And why did Paul speak so boldly to them?
Here are a few clues why Paul wrote this courageous letter…
Paul had a life-altering encounter with Christ.
Paul knew the apostles who sat at the feet of Jesus during His time on earth. He studied and learned from those men.
Paul was a devout believer. A follower of Christ. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Paul was giving these new believers a pattern. A tangible example. Look at me! Follow me! Because I know the way. I know Jesus.
Sometimes the ancient pages of Scripture read like the New York Times. Corruption. Immorality. Every conceivable sin. That sounds like our world, doesn’t it? But those words were written about a culture back in the first century! Paul was offering solutions and teaching the believers how to live for Christ in their corrupt society.
What does that story in the Bible have to do with us? Who do we listen to? What do we believe? What does freedom in Christ mean for us? Where is our Paul?
As the modern day Church, we have so much at our fingertips when it comes to learning about God. We have the written Word of God. Not only do we have the Bible, but we have Study Bibles, Life-Application Bibles, Chronological Bibles, and Inductive Bibles, just to name a few. We have concordances, commentaries, and books galore to help us know our God. And, of course, don’t forget Google (oh my, did I just say that?). There is no lack of resources for us. We do indeed live in a blessed age.
I need a Paul in my life.
Someone who will walk beside me. Someone who isn’t afraid to offer solutions and teach me how to live more like Jesus in this crazy wild world. More like Jesus. Yes. That, for me, is the key. I want a mentor who, when answers seem confusing and elusive, points me back to God’s Word, the plumb line that keeps our world centered and stable. I don’t want a best friend who just “tickles my ears”, and tells me what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to live my life based on what the current TV sitcom thinks is normal. Because next season, that too will change.
There is no plumb line in the world — it’s a shaky, crooked, always moving guide, at best.
I’ve had a few “Pauls” in my life. And as true with mentors, some have become lifelong friends and others were with me only for a season. They served a divine purpose during a specific time. I recently met up with a long-time mentor, a woman I met when I was 18 years old. I’ve always called her my spiritual mother because I know it is her example, when I was a so young and full of questions, that set me on the path to pursue Jesus. She will always hold a special place in my heart.
Are you looking around you and longing to fit in? To belong? It’s all a little confusing, isn’t it? So many different paths and opinions. Who do you follow? Do you know a Paul? Do you have a godly mentor in your life? If not, go find your Paul — that devout follower of Christ. Someone who is walking with the Lord, and vulnerable enough to say, “follow me…”.