The Real Deal
“and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him”
It’s been said, “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.” When you hear the word “imitation” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it positive or negative? I think for most the word “imitation” conjures up more negative thoughts than positive ones. I remember well the first time I visited New York City. My wife and I were enjoying ourselves at Times Square where we came upon a street vendor was selling watches. I have always liked watches and his vast display of trendy models and expensive brands caught my eye. I ended up buying an imitation Rolex watch. I had never seen a “knock off” watch prior to this and for only $25.00, to get a watch that actually worked and looked like one that cost thousands of dollars seemed like a great deal. I think it lasted for a few months before it’s lack of quality surfaced and it stopped working altogether.
Are you aware that there is a very positive and Biblical aspect of imitation? Have you ever considered that the Christian faith is an imitation faith? Not fake by any means, but the genuine emulation of the life and teachings of God made manifest through Jesus Christ in the power of God’s Spirit working in us. In Jewish culture the goal of a student who learned under the teaching of a Rabbi wasn’t just to learn all that the Rabbi knew. The goal of the student was to imitate the Rabbi so well that there was no distinction between the two. In other words the goal of the student is to become just like the teacher. As students of Jesus, as His disciples we are called to build our lives on Him, following Jesus, imitating His words and actions as He directs our daily lives. To be Christian is to be Christ-like.
The apostle Paul writing to the church at Corinth, which by all accounts was as dysfunctional a group of people you can get and in need of direction. Paul invites the Corinthians to follow his lead and to imitate his life and not because the apostle was some kind of egomaniac whose ego needed stroking. The imitation the apostle Paul was speaking of was one of willing self sacrifice for the benefit of others salvation just as Jesus Christ had done.
We were created in the image of God, loved one, meaning you are no cheap imitation. God created you and I to enjoy Him and to be fruitful in this life and yet when sin entered into the world, death came on its heels and we all fell under the curse of death. Jesus Christ, being fully God, came to earth, born of a virgin taking on human flesh and offering His perfect sinless life as the only sacrifice that could bring us back to God. That’s the imitation the apostle Paul is referring too. Jesus Christ laid aside His rights and privileges, His deity, and humbled Himself to the point of death upon the Cross, and all for the glory of His Father and for our eternal good.
The apostle Paul invites us to join in becoming an imitator of Jesus today by sacrificing our own lives for the salvation of others. Skip Heitzig makes the point well when he wrote, “Selfishness is part of our basic human nature. It is the default position for every human being. Left unchecked, everybody would focus on himself and live only to please himself. But redemption brings with it a different lifestyle—one that is focused on others, patient with faults, and motivated by a sense of unity in the church.” With that knowledge in mind the apostle Paul penned these words in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Don’t settle for cheap imitations in your life. Follow Jesus! Live life in the Spirit of Christ so that all you do points to Him. It’s been well said, “You might just be the only Bible the world is reading” as believers and non-believers alike watch how we live out our lives this side of heaven. Live in such a way that when people see you, they see Jesus!
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
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