In the following verses, trace the New Testament uses of the words “follow” (KJV) or “imitate” (NIV). What do they tell us about the process of becoming and growing as a Christian? What do you think they suggest about the relationship between modeling and witnessing? 1 Cor. 4:16, Eph. 5:1, 1 Thess. 1:6, Heb. 6:12, Heb. 13:7, 3 John 11.
The New Testament emphasis on imitation acknowledges the important role of modeling in the learning process. People tend to become like whom or what they watch. This principle applies to relationships generally and especially in the home, where imitation is common. There children imitate their parents and siblings; married partners often imitate one another. This concept provides an important clue to how couples and families can bear Christian witness to other couples and families.
The power of social influence. We witness from our homes when we provide opportunities for others to observe us and to share in our home experience in some way. Many simply have no good example of marriage or family relationships to follow. In our homes they may see how the spirit of Jesus makes a difference. “Social influence”, wrote Ellen White, “is a wonderful power. We can use it if we will as a means of helping those about us”. – The Ministry of Healing, p. 354.
As married couples invite other couples for meals, fellowship, or Bible study, or when they attend a marital growth program together, the visitors see a model. The display of mutuality, affirmation, communication, conflict resolution, and accommodation of differences testifies of family life in Christ.
Follow believers who follow Christ. All human examples are flawed; however, the witness of the Christian home is not about modeling absolute perfection. The New Testament notion of imitation is a call for individuals to follow believers who follow Christ. The idea is that individuals will grasp Christian faith as they see it demonstrated in the lives of others who are as human and fallible as they are.
|What could you do to make your home a better model for Christian witnessing?|