I did it when I was a kid. No doubt your kids have done it too. They watch us. They imitate us. Like the boy in this commercial for bottled water.
|The old adage that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” serves as a reminder that all of us, consciously or unconsciously, are observing others and modifying our own behavior based on what we see others we admire doing. A whole generation of young basketball players drove to the hoop with their tongues sticking out because they saw Michael Jordon doing it time and time again. What they may not have known is where that practice originated. |
“It’s an unconscious habit that I picked up from my father,” Jordan told talk show host Arsenio Hall. “Being a little kid and you’re watching your father work, he used to stick his tongue out, and I took it up and made it a habit. And now I can’t stop, I tried to stop, I tried playing with a mouthpiece in my mouth — just didn’t work, it didn’t feel natural.”
We often think of imitation as insincere. No one wants an imitation diamond ring. Real vanilla flavoring may cost a lot more than the imitation stuff, but there’s really no comparison. Advertisers put the word “genuine” in big letters and hid the word “imitation” in the fine print. We all understand why Coke calls itself “the real thing.” Who wants anything else?
But the Bible tells us to be imitators. Look at the different ways the New Testament writers commended the fine art of imitation:
“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” (I Corinthians 4:16)
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (I 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)
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews.” (I Thessalonians 2:14)
“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:7)
“It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” (2 Thessalonians 3:9)
“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:11–12)
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)
Does it seem odd to you that the Bible would tell us to be imitators – of God or of others? Aren’t we being phony or hypocritical or insincere if all we’re doing is imitating someone else?
C.S. Lewis addresses this dilemma in his book Mere Christianity. He writes “there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were.”
We should each be on guard against the pretense of spirituality that involves simply going through the spiritual motions without our hearts being engaged or moved. In Isaiah 1, the prophet announces God’s rejection of those who maintain their religious rituals while they ignore the call to care for and love and sacrifice and seek justice for others.
But we should also reject the passive notion that we should wait until our “want to” is activated before we do the things God has commanded us to do. Assuming your heart is genuinely inclined toward God, the adage “fake it ‘til you make it” is a good way to perhaps summarize the New Testament commands to be imitators of God. Cultivating the habit of godliness in your life may involve some raw will power and obedience, especially when our “want to” is napping.
So, two questions for you this week.
First, what is one area in your life where you can begin cultivating a new habit by imitating God or imitating the godly model you see in others. Do you need to practice controlling your tongue? Is impatience an issue that needs some attention? Are you prone to passivity or laziness? Is kindness in short supply? Do you lack grace?
Can you think of someone who demonstrates the kind of behavior you’d like to develop? What is one thing you can do today to imitate that person? If no one immediately comes to mind, consider Jesus. How can you be more like Him?
And then ask yourself this question: Would you ever say to someone, as the Apostle Paul did, “follow me as I follow Christ?” Whether you would extend the invitation or not, people who know you are watching you. Your profession of faith in Christ makes you an ambassador for Him. And while none of us is perfect, as Jesus was, each of us can decide to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
The guys who are playing pick-up basketball games on the playground are hoping their moves might look something like the superstars they watch on TV. Let’s see how we can up our game as we live for Jesus today.
The Gathering – april 30
|The evening will include singing, conversation, testimonies and food. If you’re new to Redeemer, this is a great way to get to meet folks and begin to engage. |
Click this evite to RSVP so we can know how many boxed dinners to provide that evening.
floating the buffalo | MAY 22
Our youth group is making plans for a fun day floating the Buffalo River in May. And since they’re going anyway, they thought maybe you’d like to come along and join them!
|The trip will cost $30-$35 per person. Scholarships are available. BYO Lunch. The deadline to sign up and pay or arrange scholarship is May 9. Email or text Pastor Matt for more info or to let him know you’d like to go. Mattgurney77@gmail.com.|
Wednesday evening – picnic dinners in June!
Plans are still in the works for these evenings, but you can expect some fun and games for kids and a good time for all. We’re planning to invite our neighbors to join us on the parking lot. Should be a great time for all!
magic springs theme & water park
And on July 12 at Magic Springs Theme Park & Water Park and Rend Collective will be in Arkansas for a special evening concert. Plan to join students and others who will be making a full day of it – fun and music together. More info about group plans for this day will be coming later.
Imagine for a minute what it must have been like for a man born blind to have someone he didn’t know put mud and spit on his eyes and tell him to go wash it off, only to find that for the first time in his life, he could see! We’ll explore the miracle and its meaning as we continue our study of John’s gospel on Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!