Whom are you imitating? Who is imitating you?
It seems to me that we all imitate someone (or maybe several people).
Think about your children or children you may know, or, if you can remember, think back to your childhood. Chances are you can identify ways in which children imitate others they know, primarily their parents. True, children have their own personalities, but you will almost always see ways that they imitate other people as well. Perhaps it is in the way they say things or the mannerisms they use. The imitation is usually apparent.
If we reflect long enough, we may also realize that we never really grow out of imitating others. Best friends often start to say things like each other or act the way their friend acts. Even married couples often tend to blend together in certain ways.
The real question we should ask ourselves is who deserves imitation? If we have to pick someone to imitate, whom should we opt for? The movie star in the recent blockbuster? The athlete whose picture has shown up all over the media lately? Or should we set our sights a little higher?
For those of us who claim to be Christians, we should be imitating Jesus Himself. You see, the primary name for those who followed Jesus was not “Christian” in the Bible. Check it out. In the ESV translation of the Bible, the word “Christian” only appears in the text three times (if you don’t include the uninspired section headings). Interestingly, the word means a “follower of Christ.” I know this should be obvious, but the word “Christian” brings up so many different understandings now that it is not always clear what is meant. I even had a professor who called himself a “non-practicing Christian.”
In the Bible, someone who followed Jesus was called a disciple. As a matter of fact, according to Matthew 28:19, that is what we are supposed to be going out and making: disciples, not just converts. When we hear “disciple” we often think of a student, someone who sits and memorizes teachings. There is an element of truth to that, as we do have to learn what Jesus said. But it goes much deeper. We are to learn what Jesus said, but we are supposed to apply it and learn from how He lived His life as well. You see, a disciple would follow his master, learning his teachings, watching his way of life, and copying him in everything the master said and did. It was imitation.
If we claim to be Christians, then we should be imitating Jesus. We should be learning His word, looking at His life in the Bible, and then imitating it in our own lives.
We said earlier that you can often look at a child and see where he or she is imitating a friend or parent. I want to ask (and I am challenging myself here), can people look at your life and see that you are imitating Jesus Christ? Can you say, with Paul, to other people, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”? (1 Corinthians 11:1, ESV) If not, I encourage you to pray and ask God to help you. Submit entirely to Him, and make it a point to live your life so consistently as a disciple (or as Dallas Willard would say, as an apprentice) that you can instruct people to imitate you, knowing that ultimately they are going to be imitating Jesus Himself.