Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. Philippians 3:17
Apostle Paul is asking us to imitate him. Paul imitates Christ to the fullest extent. Do you know someone who imitates Christ who is mature in their faith in Jesus Christ? A person who is truthful at all times, prays together with you and for you, is immersed in Scriptures (especially those about Jesus), who has Christ-like life, humor, and beliefs, one who is mature in faith.
Paul is all of these and he asks us to imitate his faith in Jesus Christ and the way he lives. He is constantly listening to the Holy Spirit and his purpose is to offer Christ to others even at the risk of his own life. Christ's love has taught Paul to be unselfish in giving Jesus' love to others. Christ's love has also taught Paul to be unafraid and filled with Christ's peace.
Christ's peace allows Apostle Paul to stay when Spirit indicates he is to settle in a community and teach Christ to them, and when Spirit tells Paul to move on it is usually in conjunction with other's who accompany him listening to Spirit say the same thing to them. The unity in community that Apostle Paul gives is anchored in the Holy Spirit's help to bring about a Christian acceptance of others.
Loving acceptance of new Christians into a community may bring in new Christians who will learn about Baptism, Holy Communion, and memorization of Jesus' sayings and parables. The bar is set high for both learning about Christ and imitating Him. For to gain Christian maturity the heartfelt forgiveness prompted by Spirit is lovingly given as well as speaking to others the words of encouragement that build up faith to maturity.
To God be the Glory!
Rev. Patricia E. Walker,