Some of my greatest moments growing up were pretending to be a rock star, superhero, professional football player, or a Special Forces soldier. I would spin up my favorite record (yes, I realize I just gave my age away), grab a hair brush or anything that resembled a microphone, tune up my best air guitar, and scream at the top of my lungs to my favorite 70’s rock band. Let’s not forget every boys wish he had x-ray vision like Superman (for obvious reasons, I’m not going to expound on that one), scoring the winning touchdown or field goal in the final seconds of the championship game, or running through the woods like it was the jungles of Vietnam (ok, I really need to stop giving my age away) on a mission to free prisoners of war. Those seemed like simpler times, fewer demands and absolutely more fun.
As an adult, I struggled early on who or what I wanted to be. Of course, I never became a rock star, superhero, professional football player or joined the Special Forces. My identity seemed to be encapsulated in the ordinary, mediocre and insignificant. Let’s face it…my very name is about as plain as they come. To top it off, I’m a junior so I don’t even get to be unique in my commonality.
To be honest, even as an adult, I find myself in need of something or someone to imitate. In our day and age, it’s not enough to find fulfillment in self. Our daily grind demands an immeasurable, relentless and exhausting outpouring of every fiber we have. Our reward for a life spent is provided in money, houses, cars, possessions, and idle entertainment. We want more, so much more. We cry out, even scream at the top of our lungs for something real and often come up empty.
Why? Superheroes do not exist!
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul makes this very bold statement, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (ESV) Seriously? Can you believe this guy? How arrogant of him to draw attention to himself. How can he remotely compare or identify with Christ? I mean…this is the guy who hunted down, persecuted and killed the early Christians. What audacity to declare the early church imitate him?
You would never hear a preacher today make such a claim. At least one who expects to be taken seriously or have success in his church or ministry. Surely, the media, his own church, and denominational organization would crucify him. Even now, I tremble sharing this article for how it may be received.
That, my friend, is the problem with the modern church, its leadership, and people who claim to follow Christ. Such a statement as Paul’s would not incite a relentless pursuit of the Christ in us because the very people we are to love, serve, show mercy, be salt and light to have never seen enough of Christ in or through us worthy of imitating.
We work so hard to be like our favorite celebrity, boss, friend or neighbor, and fail miserably to be like the ONE we claim to love unconditionally, serve selflessly, obey without reservation and emulate our life after. We wonder why no one wants to be like Him. If being like Christ looks like us at times, I wouldn’t want to imitate Him either.
The truth is Paul, in spite of his many failures, was confident of one thing…Christ in him was greater. His shameless, relentless and bold pursuit of imitating Jesus was all he needed. It’s all we need. It’s time for the church to “Be Imitators of Christ”. We are the only Jesus people see. When they see us, do they want to imitate Him?
Pastor James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”