Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I handed them on to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
When at school, we expended a great deal of time imitating our teachers. Most of our impressions were vocal, but at times, we imitated their mannerisms and behaviours. Having left school, I happened to meet one of my teachers who said that he didn’t mind being imitated provided some of the good bits rubbed off. Paul is appealing to those who represented the hard core of the Corinthian church to imitate him as he imitates Christ.
This is no less true today when free speech, even in our own country is under attack. Life for believers is becoming and will become more difficult as the media seek to undermine the Church. We must continue to show: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal-5:22-23).
If any of these rub off on us, we’re in a good place. Paul talks about the role of men and women in the Church, and over the years, these borders have softened not specifically because of progress, but because through the fruits, we have progressed. He also uses this passage to symbolize God’s relationship with the Church paralleling it with the relationship between man and woman.
I’m writing this at Christmas, one of our most important Christian festivals. We’ll sing carols, celebrate, spend quality time with friends and family, express our joy at the might changes wrought by Christ’s birth. If we’re in for the long haul, striving to imitate Christ in all things will ensure that we can celebrate throughout the year.
Father God, by the power of your love, help us to become imitators of you by expressing our love for you and for others through the fruits of the Spirit. Encourage us that when we grow closer to you, the good things will rub off. Amen.
David Reynolds is a serving elder at Cores End URC, Bucks
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