Editorial: Mentors in the Faith -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 06:4 (Winter 2002)
Article: Editorial: Mentors in the Faith
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

Editorial: Mentors in the Faith

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is a professor of New Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also taught New Testament at Azusa Pacific University and Bethel Theological Seminary. He is the author of Romans in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament and co-author of The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. His most recent book is Paul, the Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology. In addition, he is serving as the preaching pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

We all need models and mentors in the faith. The Christian life may seem abstract and disconnected from reality unless we see others living it out in practical and concrete ways. I have never met a believer who loves Christ passionately who has not been shaped and influenced by at least one other believer. If we have grown as Christians, we can likely point to others who lived out the Christian life in such a way that we were inspired to live in a way that pleases Christ.

We will imitate those whom we admire and respect. We naturally want to be like those we look up to. Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:17–18 that it is crucial that we admire and imitate the right people. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ” (ESV). We must imitate the right people because enemies of the cross entice us to imitate them.

I have seen students at a college who came to respect and admire a particular professor. The professor was intellectually gifted, witty, and humorous. He had a confidence that was catching. There was a brashness and boldness in his teaching that seemed exciting and novel for students. He debunked the religious and moral norms of parents with such confidence, basing it on his intellectual work.

Choosing the right mentors and models is crucial because most who vie for our attention are not good examples. Many sport stars are not good examples because their heads have been turned by their fame. Many musicians are not good examples because they do not live in harmony with the gospel. Many actors and actresses are not good examples because they live immoral lives.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 3 that even those who live moral and respectable lives may also function as bad examples. They may be enemies of Christ’s cross, working to establish their own righteousness before God instead of trusting in God for their righteousness...

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