Word for the day by Christian Education Forum


Priests called to be imitators of Christ
1 Corinthians 9:23- 27.
We have the twistable word 'imitators' in our topic. Even though the word grants its sense of reflection, it has further intense meaning when it is pointed towards the life of Christ and the life we have to deal with. Martin Luther once said,  "It is not imitation that makes sons, it is sonship that makes imitators." The very word imitation causes a threat of false sense of acting, but here in this portion we can sum up Paul's message as to live the life of Christ than mere acting.

The Old Testament shows us many priests of God, but in the New Testament Jesus is the high priest (Hebrew 4 & 5). The life that Jesus had was a life of compassion, obedience through suffering, boldness against false teachings. Whatever he has done and preached, he exhibited the meaning of what real humanity is and the expectations God has towards the people.

Apostle Paul once the persecutor of the church later became the most influential leader works for the sake of the gospel and that is for the sake of humanity as God expects. He explains it through 5 different verses of 1 Corinthians 9:23- 27. 

1.    Priest as a Fellow Partaker of the Gospel
"To the weak, I became weak, so that I might win the weak, I have become all things to all the people, so that I might by any means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22). Here he says how much he is willing to become all things to all men in order to save them. He also sums up his passion for gospel and people. Here he means t to his fellow followers especially the priests to be the carriers of grace and love. And also, to make themselves available to the needy. As he lived for the sake of gospel, we need to save ourselves and the hearers. 

2.    Obedience 
In verse 24 he speaks about the importance of discipline in a sports man’s life. Same way is the importance of discipline in the life of a priest and also for the followers. Being obedient or loyal is considered as the epitome of discipline.  When we look at the life of Jesus, he was disobedient to the law and people who obfuscated justice and peace. He was disobedient to the superfluous attitude of leaders who rejected God and people. He was disobedient to all the activities where false misinterpretations on God, law and faith evolved.   But he was obedient to God the Father. Being obedient towards God means showing disobedience to the activities of all odds against humanity. American historian Howard Zinn said "Historically, the most terrible things war, genocide and slavery have resulted not from disobedience but obedience". Priests are then to be the prophets of justice, peace, and grace.

3.    Run and Fight.
In the following verses we can see that Paul does not believe his heart. He is trying to make living demonstration of Jesus in himself. He runs and fight, same time he asks others to run and fight. It is not because he does not have Christ in him but he has Christ in him. And he wanted to show it to the world around him. He puts the same idea more beautifully in Philippians 3: 12 “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” 

It is a race and a fight in the confidence that we have been taken hold of by Christ for that very life. Our running and our fighting, with all its pain, is proof that the Christ who ran his race and fought his fight and endured his cross for the joy (the prize) set before him is alive and real in our hearts.

4.    The Prize - Imperishable Crown of Righteousness-Better Than Gold
In Verses 25 & 26,  He aspires us to run in such a way that we receive our reward. The word for “prize” is used one other time in the New Testament, namely, in Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Not to get the prize is not to go to heaven. The prize is an imperishable crown. And its only for the one who completes the race successfully and wins it. Winning a competition  makes demands. But as Jesus won his race facing all the difficulties same is expected from his disciples. That makes a complete Christian Stewardship of being in a priesthood.

5.      The disqualification
In verse 27, he speaks of what is at stake at the end of the race. Referring to Mathew 7: 22- 23, Disqualified! Yes, you prophesied in my name. Yes, you cast out demons in my name. Yes, you did many mighty works in my name. But you left the racetrack of faith and love and righteousness. You are disqualified. Depart from me. I never knew you.” So, to be disqualified means Christ is not in you. Which is not something happen for a priest. He needs to one among the people, be with them, pray for them, be there for them. That is the race he run in his life during his priesthood. 

1 Peter 2:9 says, "but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, Gods own people."

We have ordained priests in our church, for they are ordained with special duties and purposes. But it does not mean that they are the only ones to be the imitators of Christ. We are all part of the royal priesthood, see how astonishing the message is. We are all with a special purpose of stewardship with faith and hope and assurance in the salvation granted by our lord.  The Christian life is an awesomely serious affair, and the stakes are infinitely high. What you do with your life — the way you run your race and fight your fight — will make the difference between sharing in the promises of the gospel or being disqualified. It will make the difference between attaining the prize of the upward call of God in Christ, or not. It will make the difference between receiving the unfading crown of righteousness or not. Praise the Lord
Heavenly Father, shower your Grace and Mercy upon us as we strive to live our life as Imitators of Christ.

Rev. Baiju Thomas
Washington Mar Thoma Church

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