Focal passages: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27; 10:31-33; 11:1
I remember hearing a well-known professional athlete, after being caught in an embarrassing situation, adamantly declare – “I am an athlete, not a role model.”
The reality was, however, he was a role model, whether he liked it or not. Why? One word – influence.
Because of his visible role as a professional athlete, he had influence, particularly over the kids who aspired to be professional athletes one day. This athlete, because of his influence, could not choose whether or not to be a role model. He could only choose whether he would live as a good one or a bad one.
When kids looked at him, they would naturally think, “That is what a professional athlete looks like.”
As followers of Jesus, like it or not, we have influence for the sake of Christ. People will look at us and think, “That is what a follower of Christ looks like.” I have heard many unbelievers say just that.
As Paul clearly declared in his second letter to the Corinthians, “We … are ambassadors of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The choice for Christians is not whether or not we want to live as representatives of Christ.
Our choice is whether we will represent Him well and influence others toward Him or represent Him poorly and influence others away from Him.
In this section of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses physical examples to make a clear spiritual point.
If you want to represent Christ well and influence others toward Him, there is only one clear way to do it – live sacrificially for the sake of others, as Christ did for us.
I may love a good steak, Paul says, but I love those who know Christ (or need to know Him) more.
The “Christ Hymn” of Philippians 2:5-11 demonstrates the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
If we want to influence others for Christ, our lives should also be marked by such sacrificial living.
With His Spirit living in us, our lives can be.
Only then will we be able to say, as Paul did, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).