Paul makes an interesting statement, “Be imitators of me, just as I am also of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). At the outset, Paul makes it perfectly clear that he is not the standard that we are to imitate, but rather Christ. As a kid I loved going and watching USAC Midget Auto racing. In one of the racing forms appeared a distinctive poem that has stuck with me all these years: “Drivers be careful of everything you say and do, because there are little eyes watching and waiting to imitate you.” Who are you imitating today?
Now the word imitation has two distinct meanings, which can be bad or good. For instance, imitation can mean to deceive others into thinking something is genuine when it is not, (i.e., counterfeit money, watches, etc.). Individuals in the spiritual realm who follow this interpretation and try to imitate Christ but are not genuine, they are called “hypocrites.” A biblical example, is Diotrephes. John rebuked him in 3 John 9-10, because he was not imitating true Christian love. Rather “Diotrephes loves to be first among” the church (v. 9). He loved being in the lime-light of praise, but in practical living he did not live out his professed faith, and he also refused hospitality to the other brothers (v. 10). As such, imitation in the artificial sense is not what Paul is encouraging.
If we are genuinely trying to imitate Christ, four things will be evident in a person’s life: (1) We will strive to live a holy life (1 Peter 1:15-16); (2) We will evidence love towards others (1 John 4:16); (3) We will be compassionate in regards to others (Psalm 86:15); and (4) We will be forgiving in nature (Psalm 86:5).
As a pastor, I challenge you today, join me in trying to create a culture in our home, community, work place, and churches, where we strive to be genuine imitators of Christ, “until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19). Your friends at New Melle Baptist Church.