Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity/Outreach/February 2014
Following the example set by Jesus in his life has been an important element of both Christian ethics and spirituality. The concept goes back to Apostle Paul for whom imitation of Christ involves readiness to be shaped by the Holy Spirit and following Christ as in Ephesians 5:1: "Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you".
The article Imitation of Christ explains how for the early Christians the concept of imitation focused on the works of the Holy Spirit, self-sacrifice and martyrdom, but in time this changed, and by the 13th century the goal of the literal imitation of Christ was well established, and in the Eastern Church came to be known as Life in Christ.
Christian figures and authors have presented various approaches to the imitation of Christ, from St Francis' view that it involves a path of personal poverty and preaching for the conversion of others like Jesus did to Thomas à Kempis' focus on the interior life and withdrawal from the world.
From the bookshelf
For 6 centuries The Imitation of Christ has been a classic handbook for Christian spiritual life and perhaps the most widely read devotional work next to the Bible. Apart from the Bible no book has been translated into more languages than this book. From John Wesley and John Newton, the founders of the Methodist movement, to saint Thérèse of Lisieux a large number of spiritual leaders have been influenced by this book.
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