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|Found by God||JANUARY 8|
IMITATION OR PARTICIPATION
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us. Eph. 5:1, 2.
Years ago Thomas à Kempis wrote a classic work: The Imitation of Christ. It has been translated into more than sixty languages. It is written largely on the supposition that if we lock long and hard at the life of Jesus and seek thereby to imitate Him, we can actually do so. But is the Christian life that simple? Is all we need before us an example of righteousness in order to follow it? It will not work in other areas of ability and talents.
Suppose someone gives us a piece of canvas, some paint, and :t few brushes, and then tells us to imitate a Raphael or a Rembrandt. How many long hours would we need to study their paintings and imitate them? Actually, it is impossible. Or we are asked to imitate the famous violinist Heifetz. How many days, months, and years would we need to practice? We cannot do it. These artists have within them an artistic gift from God. It is part of their very lives, an ability that most of us do not have.
How can we by looking at Christ long enough, examining every move and word He makes, imitate His life? You can try to do it. But such an imitation will not be spontaneous. It will be something put on. You will need continual self-discipline and concentration with little or no time to relax even for a moment. What we really need in order to live like Christ is an actual change in our inner nature, a new life. Only to the extent to which we partake of the nature of Christ can we live like Him. Christ must change us before we can live changed lives.
Christ does not stand in relationship to us as do the great artists of the world. Imitation keeps us at a distance when we endeavor under our own steam to live as He does. The Christian way is to receive from God new life. Outward conformity, a diligent effort to keep the rules, is not the answer. We would not be satisfied with this kind of response from our children. We must have their love and oneness. Nothing else will suffice. So it is in the Christian experience. We participate in the life of Christ. We are one with Him. The work is God's.
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