Normally we don’t think of being a “copycat” as a good thing. For me the image of a bratty kid, copying everything I say or do with a mocking, derisive attitude is what comes to mind. Worse yet, is the idea of a copycat criminal. In fact, there are very few, if any, ways of having a positive viewpoint of a copycat…until you read the Bible! How is that possible, you ask? Well listen to the following Scripture verses.
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7, ESV)
I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (1 Cor 4:16, ESV)
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ… (1 Cor 11:16, ESV)
And the one that really blows me away:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. (Ephesians 5:1, ESV)
So Paul is encouraging, even commanding, the folks in those churches to imitate him and more importantly that they – and us – should be imitating God Himself! Paul wants us to be copycat Christians!
Let me start with the “imitating” God idea. Clearly there are some characteristics of God that we cannot imitate. As highly as we may think of ourselves, we are not all-knowing. Nor are we all-powerful or eternal or uncreated. There are some ways in which we can never imitate or be like Him. But just as importantly, because we were created in His image, we can very much be like Him. We can copy cat His mercy, His grace, His patience, His kindness, His delight, His love. Just think about how He has acted in your life and do the same in someone else’s. If we are children who love Him, then let’s try to be like our Daddy. Let’s walk and talk and dress like He does.
Sometimes though, God seems so abstract and it’s hard to get a concrete image of what He is like. That is why I think Paul says, “be imitators of me.” Sometimes we need to see the Father in a flesh and blood person. I think He understands that and so He gave us each other to fill that need. There are folks I have met throughout my life who have been a model to me of God’s characteristics. I can point to one person I have known and say, “That is what grace looks like in action.” I have known believers who have demonstrated patience, who have shown me mercy, who radiate joy. I can look at those people, or remember them, and want to imitate them as they imitated Christ. I have even read stories of believers from ages past who have inspired me and challenged my life today. We have a great cloud of witnesses encouraging us in our walk with God. There is a great gallery of saints who we can look to.
But what really made me think was this: Is my life worth imitating? Can I, like Paul, tell others to imitate me? Am I imitating Christ to such an extent that others would want to be more like me? Now don’t get me wrong, this is not an ego trip for me or some type of personality cult, but think about it, my life should reflect Christ. It is both encouraging and humbling – mostly humbling. It drives me to Him. It pushes me to draw closer to me. So here’s the plan. Let’s be copycat Christians. Let’s copy everything we see the Father doing and says, then let’s copycat the lives of those who have also copied the Father. Finally, let’s live lives that others could imitate, not so we can be proud of ourselves, but so that we all might look more and more like Him.