If I accept one Invitation, then I must obey six Commands. And to obey six Commands I must walk in twelve Pathways. And when I walk in twelve Pathways I become twenty-four Virtues.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT) Paul makes a simple statement, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” This is the Invitation. My transcendent purpose in life, the goal of my life above every other goal, one that we all share…is to be like Jesus. The number "1" above refers to this Invitation. And when we get to Heaven, God is going to talk to us about how well we lived. And there is only one measure for living well and that is becoming more and more like Jesus. Jesus is the perfect person. I do not need to adopt His ethnicity, His language, cultural norms of His day, or His style. I do however need His character. I need to become Him in virtue. If I accept one Invitation, then I must obey six Commands...
Fundamentals. Whether I am interested in the arts, sports, science, cooking, construction, romance, business, travel…there are always fundamentals. Every successful person in any field began with the rudimentary building blocks of their respective interest. And if I am going to become like Jesus then I need to start with what I believe can be best described as fundamentals. The Commands are the core teachings of Jesus. In fact, I would like to suggest to you that these are the foundation of the entirety of His teachings. The "6" above refers to these Commands. They are: Follow Jesus, Love God, Love People, Be Perfect, Go Everywhere, and Receive Power. If I accept one Invitation, then I must obey six Commands. And to obey six Commands I must walk in twelve Pathways...
“Thus says the Lord, stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it.” Jeremiah 6:16 (NASB)
Are you walking in all the paths God has created for us? They are: Scripture, Worship, Prayer, Fasting, Relationship, Gathering, Accountability, Reaching, Rest, Stewardship, Generosity, and Service. I want to challenge your thinking when it comes to this list. Avoid the prioritization of this list. All of them are equally vital. Too many teachings about spiritual activities try and explain why some are more important than others. The consequence, as I have observed in my work as a pastor, is that prioritization gives people a false sense of permission to neglect the “lesser” ones. The "12" above refers to these Pathways. We need all twelve working in our lives all the time in order to be spiritually healthy and vibrant. If I want to obey the Commands then I need all twelve Pathways fully functioning in my life.
If I accept one Invitation, then I must obey six Commands. And to obey six Commands I must walk in twelve Pathways. And when I walk in twelve Pathways, I become twenty-four Virtues.
I love boating. And although I have been boating for more than ten years, I still consider myself a novice because all my experience has been in lakes and rivers. When we can always swim to shore in an emergency, we are just driving a boat and not yet captaining a ship! But in life, we are in the deep waters. God expects us to be vigilant in the captaining of our lives. We are responsible. Yes, there is much that is beyond our control but even in these situations, I am accountable for how I respond. And I believe that if we have made a vow of devotion to Jesus, when we breathe our last breath, we will be docking our vessel in Heaven and the judgment of our journey is going to focus on how far and how well we traversed the seas of twenty-four virtues.
Authentic, Content, Hospitable, Truthful, Persevering, Wise, Hopeful, Loving, Joyful, Peaceful, Patient, Kind, Gentle, Faithful, Humble, Grateful, Merciful, Honorable, Principled, Selfless, Fervent, Forgiving, Believing, Self-Controlled. The "24" above refers to these Virtues.
Our premise is simple. If I create a spiritually vibrant atmosphere in my life, these virtues have the best possible chance to grow. And when positive, Christ-like virtues are thriving in us, they have a displacing effect on character traits that are less than honorable. In addition, when my heart is overflowing with such virtues, the opportunity for new unhealthy character traits to take root is less likely.
When Jesus invites me to be His disciple, He expects me to obey His commands. I obey those commands by walking in spiritual pathways. And when I walk in those pathways I become a virtuous person…the ultimate measure for my progress as a disciple.