I’m now blogging about chapter seventeen of my book. The great cliché “WWJD” (i.e. “What would Jesus do?”) is so well worn that many unbelievers are actively making fun of it by coming up with alternate sayings. Besides the ignorance of most evangelicals of the question coming from the social gospel movement, the frequent usage of this phrase itself has become the running mockery of the evangelical faith. Coming on its coat tail is the often quotation of 1 Corinthians 11.1 to “imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Some preachers would personalize the “me” (i.e. apostle Paul) as themselves. After all, it is easier for the congregation to listen to us when we identify with the “good guys.”
Such is not the meaning of 1 Corinthians 11.1 at all. At the very least, this verse belongs to the bigger section of 1 Corinthians 10.14-11.1. The overall topic is about how to navigate the sticky issues of a non-Christian society specifically with the area of eating idol meat.
1 Corinthians 11.1 is the conclusive remark of the great section. In other words, Paul’s command was the solution to the problems the Corinthians faced regarding idol meat. In what way would imitating Christ becomes the solution of facing such gray area of life? In what specific way should a believer imitate Christ to find such a solution? Would the believer imitate Christ in making water into wine? Would the believer imitate Christ by going into the temple and kicking out merchants? Would the believer imitate Christ’s kosher diet? Obviously, not all these solutions are workable. Then what? As long as the solution does not solve Paul’s problem, it is not the right interpretation no matter how well-intentioned and how traditional the meaning is.
As I always say, the texts are not at fault. The interpreter is!