This year marks ten years since the passing of George Winston Markey into glory. Although, for me, the past decade has flown by, it has been but a short measure of time punctuated with many moments of remembering George–his life, example, teachings, and, most importantly, his love. I have found myself frequently considering my attitude, actions, and responses toward others in light of how I saw George treat people during his pilgrimage upon this earth. In no way does this represent a pedestal upon which George has been placed in my mind, but rather it is a vivid display of a tangible Christ that was demonstrated to me through George’s life.
It was the Apostle Paul who said to his son in the faith, Timothy, “Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.” (I Cor. 11:1 NKJV) This should be a trait to which all of us strive in our service to the King through our discipleship of others. All of us should be imitators–even imitations. Unfortunately, in our day when people strive to be original, the word “imitation” sounds cheap, frail, and hollow. However, for Biblically-literate Christians, we know that it is the very imitation of Christ to which we are to attain–to become Christ-like. I believe that Christ-likeness is found not only in studying the life of Christ as recorded in Scriptures, but also in critically observing the Living Christ operating in relationship with fellow believers in His body, the Church.
We were made for relationships, for community. As God Himself is a tri-unity of persons who operate in relationship to one another, God has created each of us to operate in relationship to one another. And His unity is perfect! For us, unity can be a very ethereal concept–it can look good on paper, but prove difficult to achieve and maintain. Yet Paul wrote that we are to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit…” (Phil. 4:3 NKJV) Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was for unity among His followers: “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” (John 17:21 NLT)
I believe that unity is not achieved mainly in the pursuit of a uniformity of doctrine, but more so through the collective, practical expression of a generous love and compassionate care actively demonstrated toward those who are in need. In the book of Philippians, Paul wrote that there was no one else as “like-minded” with him as Timothy. How did Paul see Timothy as being so like-minded? In the verse following he continues by writing that he hopes to send Timothy to the Philippians because it is Timothy who “will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:19-20 NKJV)
Although in the New Testament it would seem that Paul and Timothy were possibly very different in personality and action, Paul still wrote of Timothy as being “like-minded.” Paul became an imitator of Christ. As Timothy then imitated Paul in selfless care for others in the name of Christ, the like-mindedness was then evident–the unity flourished. True like-mindedness originates in the example of Christ. It is continually demonstrated in the power of the Spirit through the body of Christ. True unity is maintained in selfless care for others which is done in the name of Christ.
Pursue Christ-likeness and strive for unity, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that it will be obtained through mere theological study and uniformity of doctrine. Christ is alive in His body–the Church. He is faithful to give us examples in life which reveal to us more of Himself. And His desire for us is that we become imitators so that Christ will be displayed, like-mindedness obtained, and unity maintained. “But we with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV) It is His work! He began it and he will complete it. And He will use people as examples in our lives to accomplish it.