My twin daughters love to imitate. Often they will hear Steph or I say something and they will try to say it right back to us. Or they try to imitate something they see another person do. It was so comical Saturday evening to watch the girls try their best (especially Elizabeth) to imitate their two-year-old neighbor friend, Hayden. It’s say to safe they have an intense desire to imitate what they see and hear in others and I’m sure all parents out there can relate. This is an important part of a child’s development and we can be thankful they have this God-given desire. This reminded me of the apostle Paul’s instructions regarding “imitation” in his New Testament epistles. He writes:
“I urge you then, be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:16) “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)
Apparently, this man was not shy about telling his readers not only to imitate the example of Christ, but also to imitate his life, as he followed Christ. How many of us would have the courage to say that? Not me. But Paul was a man of God who had one consuming passion – to know and follow Christ (Philippians 3:10-11). He wanted the life of Christ to so permeate his own life, that to follow Paul would be to follow Christ. As he explains, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
It seems as though the older we get, the less we try to imitate others. When I was growing up I wanted to be a professional athlete and so I would try to imitate the pros. Obviously, not very well, but that didn’t matter to me. I figured that with enough practice, eventually I would “be like Mike” (remember the late 90’s Michael Jordan commercial?). That dream has long since died, but over the years the Lord has put godly men in my life who were worthy of imitation. They walked so closely with the Lord that it made we want to be like them, and to enjoy the same type of intimacy with Christ that they had.
It is priceless to watch Anna and Elizabeth attempt to imitate and copy what they see and hear. Often it’s their fallen, sinful, and (praise God) redeemed father they try to imitate. This is humbling to say the least and shows me how much responsibility we parents have. But how much more should we as Christians, attempt to imitate our Heavenly Father (1 Peter 1:16)? How much more should we try to “imitate Christ”?
If this post resonates with you, here are 3 things we can pray for:
- That God would put people in our lives like Paul, who are worthy of imitation.
- That God would make us worthy of imitation only because we walk close to the Lord.
- That God would give us an intense desire to “imitate Christ.”