10:33 Just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
Yesterday I watched a profoundly impactful video which you can find on my wall. It was the testimony from a young woman who grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church and later left. She explains why she left and what she learned in the process. She was an imitator. We all are. As children we reflect the behaviours and values of our parents. As we grow and are exposed to a wider world we start to filter and compare the values we inherited with other potential world views. Personality plays a role in all of this too. Siblings raised the same way in the same house can display very different characters from early on. The video is well worth watching and if applied will make us all better people.
At the end of the day inspite of the myriad political views and religious views etc... there are really only two kinds of people. There are really only two choices. Once you see them clearly it's easy to see those that have chosen a definite path and those who are still struggling to decide.
In two verses Paul both defines the two paths and invites the undecided to join him on the path he has chosen. One path is the path of self. The fanciest word to define this path is narcissism. It's the me path. Everything in life is seen as a transaction and every transaction is an attempt to win, to gain, to rise, to dominate. People are opportunities for advancement. Love is weakness or a tool to exploit the weak. Few people ever become truly narcissistic but many are heading down that path.
The other path is the exact opposite. Other people are viewed as highly valuable. Self is sacrificed for the betterment of others. Those who fully embrace this path are equally if not more rare. Someone fully committed to this way of life, this world view, sees a stranger in Mongolia as of more value than themselves. Every person is a brother in the best sense of the word. They are generous, they are mentors, they invest in others not to gain but to simply help them. They see those with different and even opposite views not as enemies but rather as contributing to the delightfully colourful sea of humanity. They recognize that although they can't see it yet it fully appreciate it there is likely truth in their perspective that would/will enrich their own when they see it too.
Paul was such a person. He got it. He loved people. He poured his life out in an effort to help them find the One who is the essence of other centeredness. His statement "imitate me" would be arrogant folly if not part of the rest of the sentence: "as I imitate Christ."
Paul used to be Saul. He was the Westboro Baptist Church on steroids. He hunted people. He truly believed they must conform to his world view or be killed. Then He met Jesus.
Paul was willing to alter his diet, his lifestyle, anything that was legal and moral to gain a positive influence with people so they could see clearly the only two options available to them, to all of us.
Imitate Christ. He died with no regrets and rose up a Champion. Love is the only path to happiness and narcissism is the path to hatred, darkness, and ultimately death.
Love will win. He already has.