Prepare for August 16, 2020
Sermon Title: Imitation as Worship
There is a level of irony in Oscar Wilde’s quote, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” as Wilde himself was imitating Charles Caleb Colton, who had written the phrase “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” about 100 years earlier. For that matter, Eustace Budgell had written “Imitation is a kind of artless flattery” in a newspaper column 100 years before Colton!
Yet 1,500 years earlier, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antonius is thought to have had a different notion of imitation: “You should consider that imitation is the most acceptable part of worship, and that the gods had much rather mankind should resemble, than flatter them.”
While Marcus Aurelius was by no means a Christian (he was a Stoic, and perhaps agnostic), the apostles who lived and wrote just before him, had similar sentiments about imitation – that it was how faithful Christ-followers were to practice obedience and grow closer to Christ-likeness.
As you prepare for this Sunday Gathered, would you read our text (Philippians 3:17-19) and consider the following questions.
- How can imitation be worship? (See 1 Thess 1:4-8)
- How can refusal to imitate be worship? (See Daniel, chapter 3)
- How are we to distinguish between those we ought to imitate and those we ought not to? (Mt 7:15-20; 3 Jn 5-12; 1 Cor 11:12-14)
- Paul calls believers to imitate him, not that they might become like him, but that they might become like Christ, whom he imitates (1 Cor 11:1). Is there a faithful Christian in your life whom you seek to imitate in some way so as to become more Christlike? Why?
- What parts of your life would be good examples for other Christians to imitate?
- What parts of your life would not be good examples?
- Who could you ask to pray for you and challenge you to become more Christlike, so that others might imitate you to the glory of God (Mt 5:14-16)?