I read a comment by an annoy-ny-mouse on Malcolm's blog relating to his post entitled "Money, Sex and Power" and the mouse said something (which I have highlighted in bold in the excerpt below) which has been bandied about in Christian-speak for the longest time, so much so that it is accepted as bible truth without question:
"The difference between a chef and a religious institution / faith is that the restaurant is a business...not a mere calling.
Does a church want to be a business or a calling?
How much is enough? How much is too much?
And...what ever happen to the Imitation of Christ?
Do we want to imitate Christ in his poverty so that more can be made rich? And rich not necessarilty in the material sense?"
I was also one of those who accepted that we are supposed to imitate Christ because I have heard Christians say so and preachers preach so. However, I have my doubts today after I did a search of the scriptures for "imitate" and "imitator".
There is not a single verse, yes, NOT EVEN ONE VERSE in the bible that says we are to imitate Christ. Are you in shock now? I was, and I re-confirmed the search results by doing searches using a few translations - KJV, NKJV, NASB, YLT, NIV, ESV.
The apostle Paul did not tell us to imitate Christ but he did tell us, a few times, to imitate him!
I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (1 Cor 4:16)
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (1 Cor 11:1)
For you yourselves knowE)"> how you ought to imitate us, becauseF)"> we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, butG)"> with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It wasH)"> not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. (2 Thess 3:7-9)
Paul also called us to imitate God, but that is still not the same as imitating Christ - Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Eph 5:1)
Many Christians have been using this line of argument for the longest time, especially against fellow Christians who believe in the goodness of Daddy God to prosper his children richly both materially and spiritually eg. like what the mouse said in his comment that we have to imitate Christ and become poor to enrich others whether materially or otherwise. I have heard a preacher say that we have to imitate Christ's riches-to-rags example.
This coming Good Friday, in the Philippines, there will be people who will be literally "imitating Christ"; they will be enacting the passion of Christ. I just wonder whether those who loudly proclaim that we have to imitate Christ truly believe in it. I wonder if annoy-ny-mouse will be hanging on a cross on Mount Faber this Friday ... I wonder if annoy-ny-mouse is now a poor church mouse because he has imitated Christ whom Paul described in Gal 3:13 as having become poor in order that others might become rich ... well, probably not as poor as he could be since he still has his computer and broadband service.
We have to seriously do a re-think about this imitating Christ theology. Paul actually boldly told us to imitate him. In what way? I have to meditate on this some more, and talk to you again in another post.