Scriptural reference: Hebrews 6:7-12
Since the beginning of the Apostolic Summit we have been on an exploration of faith culminating in the understanding that our very lives and times are framed by the Word of God and we can operate in Winning Faith if we do not waiver!
“Imitate those who through Faith and Patience inherit the promises.”
The words “imitate” or “imitators” occur several times (at least 7 times in the New Testament) and each time they carry the same meaning and weight. A synonym for imitate is “follow” and for imitators is “followers”. Here are some examples from the Bible
1. In relation to God [Ephesians 5:1-7].
2. In relation to Paul [I Corinthians 4:14-17; 11:1], Paul made it clear here that we should imitate only those who imitate Christ. The necessity for that is made clear in Philippians 3:17-21.
3. In relation to the team ministry of Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy [I Thessalonians 1:1-10].
4. In relation to other churches [I Thessalonians 2:13-14].
5. In relation to that which is “good” [I Peter 3:13-17].
How to Imitate God
It is easier to imitate a person you can see than one you can’t. How then does one imitate God Who is invisible? The key is in John 3:16 – “Walk in Love”. No one that harbours envy, bitterness, jealousy or hatred, can claim to be a child of God, or His imitation. You imitate God in your loving and caring for others.
Examples to Follow
Let us take a look at two ordinary church folk who were subsequently brought into leadership positions because of their sterling qualities. They are “The New Testament Quintessential Faith Role Models”, who we can relate to as men of like passions in this dispensation of grace. What makes them fitting examples is that neither of them was an Apostle of the Lamb.
The first example happens to be the first Christian martyr by the name of Stephen (meaning “A crown”). As a newly ordained deacon, Stephen broke through into what looked like the exclusive domain of the Apostles without wearing the title. He did great wonders and signs among the people [Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12-13; Acts 6:8].
It was Stephen who first manifested the glory that was on the face of Jesus Christ on Mount Transfiguration which only Peter, James and John witnessed [Acts 6:8-15]. What was it that catapulted Stephen into this dimension of ministry? The Bible tells us that he was full of faith and power. You cannot be full of faith and not be full of power. You are only powerless because you are faithless [Acts 6:8 Cf. Matthew 17:14-17]. The Cure for Faithlessness is simple [John 20:11-29: Cf. John 10:3]. Do not be faithless but believing for blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Blessed are those who are not ruled by their senses but led by the Spirit of God, who have their senses disciplined.
The Second man was called Joses which is the same name as Joseph whom the Apostles also named “Barnabas” (son of encouragement) because of his generosity Acts 4:36-37. Good as his generosity was, Barnabas did more. But for him, it would have been very difficult for Paul to be received into the fold because of his past [Acts 9:26-30]. Furthermore, when revival broke out in Antioch, it was Barnabas that the church in Jerusalem sent to establish the new believers in the faith. The selflessness of Barnabas was clearly evident as he went to Tarsus to look for Paul and ultimately took him to the place where his ministry really flourished. Today, we are called Christians majorly because of the roles these two played in Antioch.
Why was Barnabas so secured to make room for another who could possibly outshine him? He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith [Acts 11:19-27]. What are you full of? Are you full of yourself or are you full of the Holy Spirit and of faith?
One of the downsides of any great nation or Christian ministry is the insecurity of leadership, who surround themselves with seemingly mediocre aides that cannot challenge their thinking, and whose level of intelligence is far too low to be perceived by the leader as equal or superior to theirs. Great leaders, like Barnabas attract and surround themselves with people who are smarter than themselves. They create an environment for their creativities to flourish, and take them to higher levels. By doing this, the leaders themselves excel. Barnabas was not threatened by the riches of the grace and power Paul carried. We are marching into destiny, and all hands must be on deck. If ordinary people like Stephen and Barnabas can take hold of faith and do exploits, so can we.