“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 11:1
People tend to imitate other people. Look down at what you’re wearing and it’s likely that most everyone around you wears something similar. We could say the same about the way we style our hair, the type of furniture we own, the cars we drive, as well as a host of other things which are foundational to our day-to-day lives.
It starts when we’re small. Children generally imitate their parents when they’re little, and then graduate to sports heroes and celebrities when they’re teenagers. Unfortunately, few of these famous role models are conscious that they have a responsibility towards these impressionable young people who watch them and want to be like them and thus try to live their lives in an honorable manner. Most famous people, especially the ones who get the most media attention, excel in bad behavior which is rude, lewd, crude and even criminal. Unless parents and other responsible adults keep an eye on such things and correct them when they can, children grow up thinking that it’s all right to act like a thug or a prostitute. This leads to these world-conformed kids growing up to be world-conformed adults who will raise more world-conformed kids, and our society becomes increasingly immoral and narcissistic as a result.
We generally tend to follow the latest trend which is in vogue, letting society set what they deem to be the acceptable standard. Rather than standing on principle, some politicians go with the flow so they won’t cause waves, rock the boat and thus risk losing their position of power and influence in city hall, the county seat, the bench, the state capital or Washington. They aren’t alone. Too often ethics and conscience are muffled by the desire to be accepted and liked. No one likes to be thought of as odd.
Yet God has called Christians to be different. Christians are told that they are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). In other words, God is saying, “Christians, act like Christians!” The only way this is accomplished is when Christians live and teach the commandments and principles of God which are found in the Bible.
God knows that everyone is going to imitate someone in one way or another. When the children of Israel were about to enter the promised land of Canaan, a land filled with people who were pagan and immoral, God warned them, “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations” (Deuteronomy 18:9). He would say something similar to American Christians today who find themselves surrounded in an increasingly immoral and debauched culture. In order to do that, Christians must choose to imitate Someone who is pure and holy rather than the filth which surrounds them. That’s why the apostle Paul told the Christians who lived in one of the most degenerate cities of the Roman empire, “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The only way Christians can do that is by making sure they constantly direct both themselves and those around them to the Word of God, because only God’s Word is the sure standard of belief and behavior which is right (2 Timothy 1:13; 3:16-17).
If God’s people are going to make a noticeable difference in the world – and, even more importantly, be faithful to God – then they must follow a different standard than everyone else. Christians must know and teach their children that “Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) is a commitment to live by rather than a fancy slogan cross-stitched onto a pillow. It may not be fashionable, popular or convenient…but it will lead to serving the Lord in a kind and reasonable way (3 John 11; Ephesians 5:1). The world needs to see this so they can have the hope of something better. Christians must see this so they can realize their hope of eternal life.