In the first message of the recent ITERO we enjoyed the matter of taking the lead to be patterns and to love the Lord with our first love. Taking the lead doesn’t mean “taking the leadership”—it means to inwardly and organically take the lead to be an overcomer. Though most other Christians and even other saints in the church life may not do this, we need to take the lead to be a proper pattern, and we need to take the lead to love the Lord with our first love, our best love. The Lord Jesus is our pattern, and we are learning Christ as the reality is in Jesus (Eph. 4:20-21) by repeating His life on the earth today as His Body, His increase.
We should not outwardly imitate others, nor should we outwardly follow people. Rather, we need to follow the Lord Jesus as our pattern—He was a pattern of enjoying the Father as the richest grace (butter) and the sweetest love (honey) to live because of the Father and for the Father’s glory (John 6:57; Isa. 7:14-15). Nothing is as sweet as love or as rich as grace. We need to enjoy Christ as the sweetest love and the richest grace so that we may live because of Him. Just as the living Father has sent the Son and the Son lived by the Father, so we need to eat the Lord as the richest grace and the sweetest love so that we may refuse evil and choose good. Good in Isaiah 7:15 is the good and pleasant will of God, the yoke that is easy if we come to the Lord (Matt. 11:29-30).
On the other hand, Paul explicitly says in Philippians 3:17, “Be imitators together of me, brothers, and observe those who thus walk even as you have us as a pattern.” Also, in 1 and 2 Thessalonians Paul not only encouraged the Thessalonian believers in their faith, but he also continually reminded them of “what kind of men we were among you” (1 Thes. 1:5; cf. v. 7; 2 Thes. 3:7, 9). Paul presented himself as an example and encouraged the saints to become imitators of him even as he was of Christ. In the church life and in our Christian life we need to follow and imitate—in an organic way, not outwardly—the patterns that the Lord has set before us. The best way to foster and cherish the new ones and the young ones is not by giving them many teachings but by presenting to them a pattern of living Christ for His magnification so that His Body may be built up.
When we care for the new ones and the young ones, we should not only give them teachings but also present ourselves as a pattern. We can also present to them the patterns of faith in the Word, like Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and David in the Old Testament, and Paul, Peter, John, and Timothy in the New Testament. The patterns of those who lived Christ to magnify Christ for the building up of His Body foster the new ones and care for them, inspiring them and helping them to follow the Lord Jesus. We feed others not only by giving them healthy teachings but also by presenting a proper pattern so that they can imitate in following the Lord. In many respects, we grow by imitation; we need to follow Christ and imitate the proper patterns we have in the Bible and in church history. Then by the Lord’s mercy we will also become proper patterns for others to follow. May we be those who take the lead to be proper patterns in the church!