Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Born in 1380 and died in 1471, Thomas a’ Kempis wrote the book ‘The Imitation of Christ’ which later became one of the foremost devotionals of christian living.
This late 14th century german believer who copied the Bible at least 4 times over, attended latin school in the Netherlands then later became affiliated with a pietest religious community called the Brethren of the Common life. Eventually becoming a prior of the Monastery of St. Agnes, Thomas became a man deeply affected by the transforming power of Christ.
When we look back and see men and women who lived out their lives in faithfulness and communion with the Savior, we see that they were not much different than we are today. The same God who transformed Thomas a’ Kempis is the same God transforming people today. The ways in which these christian patriarch’s practiced their faith, drew near to God, and walked in righteousness, are the same principles that are relevant today.
“Happy is he to whom truth manifests itself, not in signs and words that fade, but as it actually is.”Thomas a’ Kempis
I strive to understand how the truth of God manifests itself in and through His people’s lives. Truth is not meant to remain isolated nor is it designed to be shelved in books long forgotten. When examining the revelation of truth we can find God at the center of it all. God does not sit idly by, watching the world turn and pondering mankind’s fate like ants in a colony, He is actively investing Himself into our reality on a daily basis.
Truth manifest in a believers life is God working out salvation openly, as a testament to His goodness.
Ephesians 1:11 “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will”
Truth in Theory
A brief survey regarding philosophical discussions on truth can leave your head spinning. From Aristotle to Descartes the avenues by which a seeker may travel are as numerous as there are roadways in this world. Along the way, one may find that certain questions lead to further questions, and so on and so forth. By the time a student of philosophy has surveyed all possibilities, he is suppose to leave with a conclusion of what is true. Has God proven Himself? Does the universe reveal His nature? Is God necessary? Philosophy continually asks these questions while leaving it’s seekers in an endless maze of searching.
From a christian perspective, at the foundation of all these questions lies the premise that God exists and that He is the One who has established Truth. Jesus addressed this very early in His teachings:
John 14:6 "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Jesus took the question of truth as being an entity separate from God that might need to be rectified, and brought it into a unifying reality of Truth in who He is and was and will be.
Truth is always just a theory as it relates to the world, correspondence theory is one such avenue of discussion. Thomas a’ Kempis takes the idea that truth is not only relegated directly to the character of Christ but our responsibility is then to imitate Truth by imitating Him.
“O God, You who are the Truth, make me one with You in love everlasting. I am often wearied by the many things I hear and read, but in You is all that I long for. Let the learned be still, let all creatures be silent before You; do you alone speak to me.”Thomas a’ Kempis
When examining Thomas’ prayers, we see that he was drawing from the Word of God, the very standard of Truth revealed.
James 1:21 “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
If someone wants to follow in the footsteps of Thomas, they must choose the noble path that all saints of God took…..they must become another imitator of Christ.
If you want to be on this path there is good news for you…the God of all Truth desires for you to be there as well! The expectation is not that you have to search the dusty halls of books or study in the centers of learning, the Lord hasn’t made the journey that difficult. For the pilgrim who desires to grow in understanding, he need only consider his hearts position to receive the truth made known.
The Reality of Truth
John 10:9 "I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture."
Philosophy will go into all that following after truth entails but it is found guilty of pulling it’s seekers down a path that only poses questions, with no answers. The true seeker begins with humility because they know that truth doesn’t lie within them. For any path to succeed it must be prepared for anything that might be found on the journey—humility prepares the heart to receive God’s Truth revealed.
Secondly, by accepting Jesus as the foundation of all Truth, the seeker accepts Him as Lord of their life and their belief in Him becomes their reality. If a person truly believes in Christ, they will find themselves following after Him daily. The Lord imparts His Spirit to those who seek Him with all their hearts, and it is by His Spirit that Truth is imparted.
Third, walking in obedience to God’s leading is the priority for the one who truly follows Jesus. The Spirit is always watching and leading those who desire to follow. Acts of obedience are the continuation of a faith that began at salvation and continues on into practice. The path of the righteous is not easy, nothing of value ever is, but when trust is placed in the Lord and all that He is doing, true growth occurs in the knowledge of Him.
Jesus’ disciples were not actively following Jesus when He approached them, they were at times interested in His teaching or enamored by the miracles that followed Him. It wasn’t until Jesus approached them did the opportunity present itself in the form of a command:
John 1:43 “The next day Jesus decided to set out for Galilee. Finding Philip, He told him, “Follow Me.”
Mark 2:14 “As He was walking along, He saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth. “Follow Me,” He told him, and Levi got up and followed Him.”
With each subsequent disciple, the command was presented…”follow me”, now the command goes out today:
Mark 8:34 “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
The call to follow Jesus is the call to walk in His Truth. God’s Truth can be found and at the end of that journey stands the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the Bright and Morning Star….the LORD God almighty who has redeemed sinners from death to life. His call to know Truth is the call to know Him. You will find that everything you ever hoped for and desired will be fulfilled in knowing and trusting in Him.
There are many imitations of Christ in this world, wisdom and discernment must be exercised carefully and the Word of God will serve as the bulwark of all that is True.
If your not a disciple now, you have been called to be a disciple–it’s up to you to respond.
If you are a disciple of Jesus, you are called to deliver His call to the world. Jesus has called all to be imitators of Him. He has promised to never leave His people or forsake them. He has promised to empower His people for the journey and protect them from evil.
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”
The journey of walking in Truth begins with a command, the believer follows with obedience. If you hear His voice—follow Him, and all the confusion of this world will melt away, everything will become clear. It is then that you will know the Truth of imitating Christ and all your questions will have been answered.