Monday, January 25, 2010

“Real Imitation” Phil. 3:17

S-1161 Sermon TV 2SIL 2/28/10 Hymn: (O) #644; (S) #783; (C) #725

Texts: Jeremiah 26:8-15; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

Theme: “Real Imitation” Phil. 3:17

TV. Main Street Living

(This sermon was taped at Zion, Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls, SD on 1-28-2010,to be broadcast on the Main Street Living Program on February 28, 2010)


Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our homily is from the Epistle lesson: “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” Phil. 3:17

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, I live in Armour—a small community under 800 people. I love the small town living because it provides me with so many blessings. One of the blessings is meeting all kinds of people at the local co-op for coffee or just visiting. On one of my visits with my wife, I saw a father and son come in. The father and son were dressed alike—blue jeans, boots, western shirt and caps. His young son proudly walked behind his father imitating his every move. But what really struck me most is that little boy had on his belt a pliers’ holder, just like his father.

That little boy was proud. He walked the same step, did the same thing, and stood the same way his father did. It is a joy to look at a beautiful sight like that. They say: “Imitation is the highest form of flattery!”

Paul in our text this morning exhorts and encourages us to be Real Imitators of him. Notice the emphasis on being a real imitator, not fake or pretend. But real, authentic and genuine in our walk faith, in our words, in witness to the Gospel, in our work place; and in worship life.

The great man of God—Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” .ESV The New King James Version translates the passage this way, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The word “imitator” in our English language is derived directly from the Greek word in this passage, “mimetai.” The word means to follow a pattern of behavior set forth by another, to mimic that behavior. It means to behave exactly as the one who sets the example behaves. In so following their example—their pattern of behavior—we can be like them in our behavior. To be simply and clearly we are to Mimic the Messiah, Imitate Immanuel, Copy Christ!

Paul urges all those who are children of the heavenly Father to follow his example—being imitators of him who is imitating Christ His Lord. In other places of Scripture, Paul writes: “I urge you, then, be imitators of me” (1 Corinthians 4:6); “For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, (2 Thessalonians 3:7). Again and again Paul tells those whom he taught to be imitators of him. To fail to imitate Paul as he imitated Christ is to fail to live the way that Christ would want us to live.

In our reading today Paul is in a Roman jail, writing to his beloved church at Philippi to encourage and spur them on their walk of faith. Even though he is about to be executed, he still finds joy in writing to them to follow his example of walking in the footsteps of His Savior and Lord Jesus. Listen to him Paul today with ears of faith as he speaks to your hearts and heads, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17). Paul wants all of God’s children, bought by the blood of Jesus to be real imitators of him and the Christ he serves.

To be real imitator is never easy. As a matter of fact it is down right dangerous. In our Old Testament reading for today, Jeremiah is about to be put to death because He took to heart his calling—sharing the Words of Law and Gospel to all people. He didn’t mince words when he spoke with the religious leaders about turning away from their sins. For speaking the truth in love, for being a faithful follower of His God, for being true to the Word, he was at the risk of being put to death.

And we are no different than Paul, Jeremiah or others of the prophets and apostles. We are to be Real Imitators of Christ. However, we can’t be real imitators unless we ourselves know the real Christ. We can’t serve Christ with all of our hearts, unless we know that He served us first. We can’t show, demonstrate and delight in being Real Imitators unless we ourselves know the real Savior.

To know the real Savior, is to spend time with Him and in His Word, to ponder deeply the meaning of Jesus’ death on the cross. To be real imitators means the cross of Christ becomes our cross; His suffering becomes our suffering; His shame becomes our shame; His death becomes our death. This is never easy. I don’t say that lightly. It is down right dangerous today to be a Christian and live your life as a Real, Genuine, True man, woman, boy and girl belonging to Christ.

To be Real Imitators, the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and heads to know the Savior for who He really is—the heaven-sent Messenger who would suffer our punishment, would die our death, and would raise our resurrection. Jesus is the Real reason, we become like Him in every way. By His grace alone, we are privileged to be in His house of worship, hearing and learning the message that sets us free to be children of the heavenly Father. How blessed we are to be emboldened in our walk of faith by His Word, through confession and absolution, and nourished and nurtured by His Life-Giving Sacrament. These are the Means by which Christ moves us to be real imitators of Paul even to the point of death.

But in today’s culture it is very difficult to live as real and genuine Christian. It is hard to mimic the Messiah when there are so many counterfeit Christ’s; so many that deny the inerrancy of Scripture and the truth that it teaches. Know for certain Jesus is not like God, He is very God of very God. Most of the world is aping Darwin with his survival of the fittest worldview rather than the crucified Risen Savior’s invitation to love one another as I have loved you.

But as the Baptized, Redeemed, Forgiven, Blood-Bought and Heaven-Bound Children of God, we can’t be but authentic and true to our calling in imitating Paul to forsake all that the world offers and hold unto that which lasts—the treasure of heaven—Christ Himself. PAUSE.

In 1982 there was a commercial called, “It Is It Me, Or Is It Memorex?” The commercial begins with a lady speaking: “Look at me, do you like what you see?” Good! Because it is not me, it is a recording of me on new Memorex video tape. This remarkable tape has been recorded and re-recorded 100 times. But I bet you still couldn’t tell if it was Memorex or me, which really isn’t me—it’s Memorex. New Memorex video tape even after 100 recording you would still wonder is it live, or is it Memorex!

The point of the commercial is there should never be any difference in what you see or hear. And so it is with us as God’s holy and beloved children. God’s Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel to be real imitators of Jesus Christ. In this Gospel we see who this real Jesus is. And in light of that, we willingly and joyfully, like St. Paul, follow. We do this not to flatter Jesus, but in faith to praise Him for all He has done for us!


Here we have Christ imitating us first, that we would then imitate us.  He took on all that we are - our full humanity, and even became sin for us, so imitating us that sin found its home and answer on His striped back, His nail pierced hands and feet, His thorn crowned head, all delivered according to the perfect will and love of the Father.  Perhaps starting with Christ and His imitation of us, we can see our imitation as the sincerest form not of flattery but of faith rooted and grounded in our adoption as His beloved children.

People of God, chosen and beloved, children imitate not only “dad or mom” but also one another - adopt the same clothing, actions, speech, same idioms, mannerisms.  To imitate Christ is to imitate what my older “Brother” has done - as we hear Him speak, watch Him bleed (for us and for all) - as we watch Him heal the sick, forgive the sinner, rejoice over the lost sheep now on His shoulders, as He weeps for joy as the Lost Son now wears the robe of sonship, the shoes of peace, the ring of family.  Baptismal power to imitate Christ comes from our place as one who has first been loved from the very “side” not just from above - as our brother

I pray that we would be Real Imitators of Paul—sharing the Good News every opportunity that the Lord lays before us. Remember my opening story, with the boy imitating his father and wearing the plier’s holder on his belt? What are we wearing on our belt today? I pray that it is the Gospel of salvation that helps us go in the name of the Savior, to a world that is still don’t know Him, and by our words and works show them the love of Jesus for now and always. Amen.

Now the peace…


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