by Chris Butler
Who would you consider to be the greatest role model for your Christian life? I’m sure that many of us know of many mighty men and women of God, yet perhaps most of us would list the Apostle Paul as the greatest Christian who ever lived and the one they would most like the emulate. In fact, Paul often held himself up as a pattern for all Christians to follow. “Imitate me,” he urged, “just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). He knew, of course, that he could serve as a godly example only if he faithfully followed the Lord Jesus.
Throughout September our services at the Rivers Team will focus on the life of Paul. We will be looking at the full extent of his life – his conversion, the change in his life, the training he received, his empowerment by the Spirit, his leadership and his preparations for those who would follow after him. No matter what stage we are in our Christian walk, whether a new convert to the faith or a church leader, there will be something from his life that we can apply to our own.
Paul’s life has inspired countless ministers, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists. If you read through the book of Acts it’s easy to see why. The exploits of Paul will take your breath away. He made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians.
The apostle was a spiritual father to many and his inspired letters to the churches he founded formed half of the New Testament, thus becoming the foundation for Christian theology, but despite those achievements he endured enormous physical hardships. He was whipped, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, stranded, and faced dangers in the city and the country. He was also made weak through tiredness, hunger, sleeplessness, and the “thorn in his flesh” which continually tormented him, but he soon realised that it was through these weaknesses he was made strong as he depended more and more upon the Lord for his strength (2 Cor 12:9).
No other churchman has had a greater impact on Christianity. And Paul’s attitudes, motivations, and methods are elements that we can reproduce in our own lives to help us impact lives the way he did. And as we copy Paul, who himself was copying Christ, then we in turn will become role models for the next generation of Christians who follow after us.