The Imitation of Christ

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“He that followeth me, walketh not in darkness.”

In what is perhaps the second-greatest book ever written, The Imitation of Christ, author Thomas à Kempis references the above verse to illustrate the absolute necessity of studying and meditating upon the life of Christ. If any man wishes to be enlightened with the truth, he must follow-he must imitate-Christ. If any man does not do this, his life will invariably be plunged into darkness.

But what does it mean to follow and imitate Christ? Do we study and meditate upon His life by learning sublime words and mastering the sayings of philosophers? “In truth,” à Kempis writes, “sublime words make not a man holy and just: but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God. I would rather feel compunction than know its definition. If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would it all profit thee without the love of God and His grace?”

To imitate Christ means to love God. Was not the love of His Father the chief aspect of all Christ’s teachings? If we are to imitate Christ, we must simply love Our Father. A famous prayer asks Christ to, “Grant only that I may love Thee always, and then do with me what Thou wilt.” Contained within those simple words is the essence of the imitation of Christ.

Seek not after worldly possessions or vain riches. Seek not after false, Pharisaical wisdom by memorizing sublime words and sayings of philosophers. True wisdom, true happiness, and true life is to be found only in the imitation of Christ. For He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. “Study, therefore, to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and turn thyself to things invisible. For they that follow their sensuality defile their conscience and lose the grace of God.”

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