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Where Will Others Be If They Follow Me?

Who we choose to follow makes a huge difference in our direction and ultimate destiny in life. As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "If you do not change direction, you will end up exactly where you are headed." That truth seems so simple that it hardly needs to be stated. But every day millions of people choose paths and directions and leaders in life who are taking them further and further away from truth and God and Christ, still hoping and acting as if they expect someday to be with Christ. Who and what we choose to follow in life is vitally important That's what makes the apostle Paul's invitation in 1st Corinthians 11:1 so relevant 2,000 years after he issued it To a church that was struggling to decide exactly who and what it would believe and follow, Paul offered this simple and straightforward invitation — "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (King James Version). Other versions differ but amplify the thought — "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (New King James Version); "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (New International Version). This invitation was not issued by some self-centered and egotistical and pompous preacher or elder in the church with a proud heart and a swelled head and an over-inflated sense of his own importance. No, Paul is not asking Christians to blindly follow and obey him. As noted Bible commentator Matthew Henry wrote, "He [Paul] would be followed himself no further than he followed Christ." Paul is issuing a challenge and call many modern preachers and Christians cannot and dare not make! He is inviting and directing people to live as they see him living. Many there are in the church who dare to say, "Do as I say do." Fewer there are who can dare to say, "Do as I do. Follow my example. Imitate my Christian life. Live the way I do." The apostle's words remind us that each of us not only follows but also leads others. Good or bad, every child of God sets an example for others to follow. The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot escape setting an example. The only issue to be settled is the kind of example we set. The question is, do we say with our lives what we proclaim with our lips? The Boston Globe reported that at the 1993 annual meeting of The American Heart Association, thousands of doctors, nurses, and researchers met in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the importance of keeping our hearts healthy. Yet during meal times, they consumed fat-filled fast food — such as bacon cheeseburgers and fries — at about the same rate as people from other conventions. When one cardiologist was asked whether or not his partaking of high fat meals set a bad example, he replied, "Not me, because I took my name tag off' (Boston Globe, 11/10/93). That doctor's practice belied his preaching. Every day we live we are making tracks others will follow on the pathway of life. The inescapable reality is each of us sets an example, either good or bad. A question each of us ought to seriously ponder is, "Where will others be if they follow me?"

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ