Imitating other people leaves you empty

I have noticed on many occasions that children constantly mimic the actions and words of adults. Why is that? I can remember trying to mimic my parents as a child. I remember sitting with a pad of paper and pen, scribbling illegibly and pretending I was a secretary, even though I had no idea what a secretary did. But I had seen one on TV and thought it was cool. Children like to imitate adults. I’m not sure if it’s because they want to be more grown up. I can’t remember my reasoning behind my mimicry, but I know I did it.

Something happens when we reach adulthood, though, and our imitation changes. We still do it, but it’s not as innocent. We imitate others to fit in, to manipulate, to present an image of ourselves that is false. Some of it is unintentional, even. We imitate style. We imitate speech patterns. We imitate possessions. Ever heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”?

And there’s nothing wrong with any of that, I guess. But where does imitating other people get you? Maybe a relationship that isn’t real? Or a promotion at job you hate? Really, as believers, there’s only one person we’re supposed to be imitating, and that’s Jesus.

Imitating the gorilla behind the glass

Imitating the gorilla behind the glass - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

The verse for today is 1 Peter 2:21.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.

As believers in Christ, we are called to do good things, even if it means that we have to be uncomfortable for a while. As children of Adam and Eve, we know the difference between right and wrong; as children of God, we are called to choose right, and we have the power to choose right.

If you are in a situation where you don’t know the answer or you don’t know how to respond to something that has appeared in your life, the answer is to do what Jesus would have done. The whole WWJD campaign was a good idea, but it’s lost its steam. But the concept behind it is the same as what this verse is talking about.

Do what Jesus would do.

Well? What would Jesus do? How did He live? We’re always saying that: WWJD. But what does that mean? Easy answer? Read 2 Peter 22-25.

He never sinned,
      nor ever deceived anyone. 
 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
      nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
   He left his case in the hands of God,
      who always judges fairly.
 24 He personally carried our sins
      in his body on the cross
   so that we can be dead to sin
      and live for what is right.
   By his wounds
      you are healed.
 25 Once you were like sheep
      who wandered away.
   But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
      the Guardian of your souls.

Sounds like a pretty tall order, huh?

I can hear people now: Jesus never sinned, but I’m not Jesus. That’s true. That’s a standard that we can’t reach because we were born with a sinful nature. We will sin because we aren’t perfect. But by that same token, sin should never been our goal. We shouldn’t wake up in the morning with the attitude that sin is inevitable and it’s no use resisting it. That’s not why Jesus died for us. He died so that we didn’t have to give in to sin. (reference verse 24 above)

The one that really gets me, though, is that He didn’t retaliate when someone hurt Him. It’s hard to turn the other cheek. It’s hard to try to live at peace with people who have no interest in living at peace with you. But Jesus did. And that’s what He expects from us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe there’s a time and a place to stand up for yourself and for your country. But Jesus didn’t come to Earth to lead a revolution or to start a war. He came to save souls. That was His purpose, and that’s what He did. So that’s how we should live.

Imitating people leaves you empty. Jesus is the only person you can imitate who doesn’t ask that you change who you are to please Him; He accepts you either way. And even though following Him can be uncomfortable and inconvenient at the beginning, at the end of the day the rest of the puzzle pieces of your life will come together and you’ll understand why it matters.

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