By Chad Smith
If you stop to think about the way you live the Christian life (how you were discipled) practically, day-to-day, I would guess you have learned what you do by imitating other Christians. The positive and negative habits, both good and bad traits, have been developed by imitation.
We are wired for imitation.
How we live the Christian life is more caught than taught. If you think about the way you approach prayer, I would guess it has been influence by what you have seen from others. Imitation is more powerful than education. Duplication is more powerful than doctrine. We are shaped more by mimicking others than we are memorizing theology. We copy the way others live faster than following what they teach.
It’s a way of life.
Jesus’ final mandate in Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission) was to make disciples of all the nations baptizing them (identifying with God’s character and authority) and teaching them to observe (not to learn) everything he commanded. A disciple is an apprentice, a follower, an imitator of a way of life.
There is nothing in this mandate about what to believe. The mandate is to make people imitate a way of life. Jesus didn’t say teach them to KNOW everything I commanded. He said OBSERVE—live it!
Now I’m not saying that what we believe is not important.
What I am saying is the more important point is living what we believe.
Discipleship is about imitating a certain way of life. Let me really meddle for a moment and ask you to apply this to yourself. What about you is worth imitating? If everyone in our church imitated you, what would the state of our church be?
I know we value diversity and different styles and we wouldn’t want everyone to be a copy of just one person, but I’m not talking about style, I’m talking about character.
If everyone has the same level of faith you have, what atmosphere of confidence in who God is and certainty that he will do what he has promised to do, would there be in our church? If everyone treated their family like you do, how strong would the homes be of people from our church? If everyone prayed with the same consistency and intensity as you, what would the prayer life of our church be?
Your goal should be a life shaped by Jesus, worth imitating.
Until you do, the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled. Making disciples is more than convincing them what to believe. Making disciples is about convincing people your life is worth imitating.