The Purpose for the Imitation of Christ Essay

Submitted By MistressMe
Words: 1075
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E***** W******
Professor W***** B******
World of Humanism and Reform
23 March 2013
The Purpose for the Imitation of Christ There is a reason why God granted people free will and gave them the ability to reason, elevating them far above all His other creation. Kempis, Luther, and even Christ Himself are quick to assure Christians that the actions taken due to the liberty and logic that humans posses are not the way to faith or salvation. These works are performed for a variety of reasons including obeying Christ in His call for His creatures to put other men above themselves and treating them as they would treat the Lord, calling Christians to be slaves to each other, to meditate upon God therefore getting closer to the Spirit within that keeps them from sinful thoughts and misdeeds, and to preserve man from idleness. Good works should be the fruit borne by all Christians in light of their faith in Christ. In Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, he expounds upon the idea that people perform acts like those that Christ committed because they are obeying His command to love their neighbors as themselves and love is a verb. Kempis notes that, “he does much who loves much” (19) proving that a man who loves his neighbor will be busy doing charitable acts for the betterment of the common good instead for his own aggrandizement. By doing this Christians are, “destroying [their] personal desires and submitting [themselves] to all authority” because God has called them to, “be humble and place [themselves] at everyone’s feet” (Kempis, 95). Kempis emphasizes the order given to men to relinquish their pride and instead humiliate themselves by becoming everyone else’s slave, in the sense of committing any act that builds up their neighbor, with charity which can only be done with discernment and reason because it requires an understanding that by being masters of their own actions, so these actions do not control them, they are loving their brothers through their acts. For that reason, people would not be willing to be slaves unto their neighbors if they were not granted the ability to rationalize that a humble man is more pleasing to the Lord than a proud one. Luther, despite his firm belief that man is saved by faith in God alone, did not completely reject good works done for others, not for oneself, and even cherished them, calling fellow church leaders to teach about them as often as possible because he believed that a good servant of the Lord would produce such works therefore enhancing his own faith, in the end (72-73). He believed that “we should devote all our works to the welfare of others, since each has such abundant riches in his faith that all his other works and his whole life are a surplus with which he can by voluntary benevolence serve and do good to his neighbor” and in doing he will be sharing his faith with his brothers so they may both be uplifted in their faith. Furthermore, the acts of prayer and meditation upon God’s word keep a man from sinful thoughts and actions and, most importantly, bring him closer to the Lord. Luther observes that people must always be dealing with each other and that is where good works come in because Christians must be disciplined so that their selves will be subject to the Holy Spirit instead of the vain pursuits of the flesh (67). Men must have willpower to labor for the Lord in order to “conform to the inner man and faith” through “fastings, watchings, labors, and other reasonable discipline” because a lack of resolve would prove how difficult it is to serve God and may cause men to end up wavering in their faith (Luther, 67). In these things we can look to the Saints and Holy Fathers, seeking to be more like them because they tried to be like Christ by fully devoting themselves to pursuing the Lord. These men were eager to love their Savior for the grace He had bestowed upon them. Kempis calls Christians, in The…