“Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” Philippians 3:17
Have you ever met a particular Christian and thought, “She’s the real deal!” Even if you can’t articulate exactly what it is—there’s just something genuine and sincere about that person’s faith. He or she is walking so closely with the Lord that the pattern of their life is noticeably different, even from other believers. Such godly role models are rare these days. But according to the apostle Paul, that’s how every Christian should live. So what stops us?
We tend to think of Paul as some kind of Christian superhero. Yet he wasn’t the only one who lived with Christ in the forefront of his mind. He spoke of “the pattern you have in us.” If we think of the life Paul described as out of reach then we’re already defeated. Paul didn’t aspire to be a role model; he simply pursued his relationship with Jesus more than he pursued anything else.
That’s why he could boldly point to his own life as the template for how a Christian should live. Paul wasn’t being egotistical by saying, “pattern your lives after mine” (Philippians 3:17 NLT). Remember, the driving force of his life was to be like Christ. So by pointing to his own life Paul was actually pointing to Jesus! “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV).
But if we’re afraid to be vulnerable our lives will lack authenticity. It’s true—we risk ridicule by taking a public stand for Scripture. And stepping into a leadership role at church could expose our weaknesses. Keep in mind, those are the moments we experience Christ’s strength the most (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Paul goes on to say, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things” (Philippians 4:9). In other words, Paul practiced what he preached. His private life matched his public life. Our culture desperately needs people who not only speak biblical truth but whose lives back up what they say.
You are setting an example for someone every day—whether it’s Christlike or not. So ask yourself, “Am I following a religious creed, or pursuing an intimate relationship with Christ? Is the pattern of my life noticeably different, or do I practice casual Christianity?” When we pattern our lives after Paul we’re actually following the example of Christ. As a result, we become the godly role models our world is looking for.