Pastor's Pen: On the Catwalk

August 7, 2017

by Graeme Shanks

"I think it's an honour to be a role model. If you are given a chance to be one, I think you should always take it because you can influence a person's life in a positive light, and that's what I want to do. That's what it's all about.”

We all have role models. We all have certain people in our lives whom we admire and whose pattern of life we strive to follow. The question is not “Do we have role models?”, the question is “Do we have the right role models?” It may surprise you that the quote above is Tiger Woods speaking in 1997. He was reflecting on his new-found fame and position of influence in society. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

As we’ve journeyed through Philippians over the summer months, I’ve been struck by who Paul presents to the Philippians as role models worth imitating; no heroes, no celebrities, no razzle-dazzle, just everyday men living out their faith in Jesus Christ in their everyday nitty-gritty lives. Here are men who are shining like stars, he says. Here are men worthy of being your role models.

Consider Timothy(2:19-24), Paul’s trusted co-worker, a proven asset, and a close friend and encourager. What does Paul say of him? That he has none like him (2:20). What a marvelous thing to have said about you. Amongst other things, Paul draws attention to Timothy’s service. Like Paul, Timothy lives his life as an offering to God willing to spend and be spent in the service of his master.

Consider Epaphroditus (2:25-30), a Christian of sterling quality, a reliable person, and a man full of love and devotion to his fellow Christians. What does Paul say of him? That he nearly died for the sake of Christ (2:30). Paul draws attention to Epaphroditus’ sacrifice. He is risk taker, willing to risk his life in the service of Christ. Epaphroditus is a faith risk taker fully aware that there is no gamble to resting your hopes on the risen Christ.

Consider Paul (3:17). It may seem strange to our modern ears to hear Paul say this especially after he has just admitting his own imperfections (3:12)! However, Paul is no megalomaniac. Paul can say this because he is following Christ. Indeed, he is not simply following Christ, he is straining after Christ (3:12). You get the sense that Paul is working out his sanctification with lots of perspiration. No standing still. No resting on his laurels. There is a race to be run, a prize worth running for and a man worth knowing better.

These are 3 men were worthy role models for the Christians in Philippi.

And as we consider them ourselves in our own lives, let me ask you 3 questions:

1. Are you imitating Christ? Is Jesus Christ the magnificent obsession of your life? Are you seeking to get to know him more? Are you sacrificing for and investing in his Kingdom? Does obedience to his Word feature daily in your life? Are you resting in his grace?

2. Is your Christian life one worth imitating? D.A. Carson, writing in his little book From the Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the Last Days, asks:

Do you ever say to a young Christian, 'Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!' If you never do, you are unbiblical.”

3. Who is looking to imitate you? Is there someone that God has placed in your life, perhaps in this church itself, who you can come alongside and become a role model for? Are there experiences that you can help others through? Is there knowledge you can pass on? Who can you be praying for and how can you be praying for them?

Elsewhere in the New Testament, Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to ‘Follow me as I follow Christ’ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Those are the kind of role models that we want in our Christian lives and in the life of our church. Those are the kind of examples that we ourselves should strive to be. Indeed, when it comes to living out the Christian life, that truly is what it’s all about.