“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
One of my friends said tonight that you imitate those who you look up to. Growing up as an active kid heavily involved with sports my idols were naturally professional athletes. I idolized Tom Glavine because like me he was a left-handed pitcher. I idolized Phil Michelson as a left-handed golfer. As I got into weightlifting later in life I would idolize figures like Chad Vaughn and Caleb Williams and Chandler Alford and Henry Brower for their capabilities on the competition platform. I looked up to these men because they exhibited traits that I wanted to exhibit myself. They were easy idols for me to follow because when they stepped up for perform they always showed up in a big way and seemed almost flawless when they did so. That’s why Tiger Wood’s fall from grace was so dramatic for so many people. A once flawless man was revealed to be deeply stained and blemished.
We all imitate the people who have the qualities we desire. For many of us it’s our parents or our older sibling as well as leaders in areas we’re passionate about. Business leaders or artists that do what we long to do. Those are the people we idolize.
Paul plays off this innate human desire when he calls us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. As I was thinking about the words of my friend tonight that we imitate who we look up to, it dawned on me that so often I idolize imperfect, flawed men as though they are perfect and flawless. I often will idolize these men at the expense of trying to imitate the one man who was perfect and without fault, Christ. There is nothing I long for more than intimacy with and impersonation of Jesus Christ. Why? Because when it dawned on me all that Christ had done for me I couldn’t help but want to be more like Christ. Gratitude and fascination were the natural responses to my understanding of the Gospel. I was floored at both the immense righteousness of Christ and also his power to put that righteousness to work FOR ME!
How could I not desire to imitate that? However, I often find that I am distracted and forget the immeasurable value of Christ and His immeasurable power because I lower my gaze to idolize men or positions held by men. That’s why I think the second part of Paul’s words are so important, “as I imitate Christ.” He isn’t saying don’t imitate other men. He is however saying be sure to give priority to Christ.
We should, if we understand and see all that Christ has done for us, be stricken by Him and desire most to be like Him. It’s not different than me watching Jordan fly through the air with my jaw on the ground. We must be stricken with the truth of the Gospel provided to us in Christ so much so that we desire most to be like Jesus. Imitation is hardwired into our physiology. It was designed that we might imitate Christ. We often skew it as we idolize others AT THE COST of imitating Christ.