Imitation and Image Bearing
One morning last week I came downstairs to my chair – you know the one, the one with just the right light, the coaster for my coffee, my bible, journal, and pens. I found my three-year-old daughter curled up with a blanket and one of her play-kitchen mugs. She sweetly said, “drinking my coffee Mama.” I took a picture because it was so sweet to see her imitation of me.
As I have dwelt upon that image, I have been reminded of who I imitate and, more importantly, whose image I bear (Gen 1:27). I could see myself made small in her body: the way she sat with her feet curled up under the blanket, sipping her “cup of coffee”, and her brown hair tousled and unkempt.
There are so many people who I also imitate in small ways – the girl from Kindergarten with the earrings, the friend from high school who taught me to straighten my hair, the co-worker who taught me to bake my Thanksgiving turkey in a bag, my college roommates who taught me to drink coffee with creamer, and I hear my mom’s words coming out of my mouth daily.
Our society also gives us no shortage of images to imitate, but we are not called to imitate the Instagram influencer or the pop stars in magazines. As Christians, we are called instead to imitate Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” He is telling the church at Corinth that they are to be different than those around them. They are to follow Paul’s lead as he imitates Christ.
We are called to imitate Christ and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be transformed inwardly into his likeness; to be holy and set apart for his purposes. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18) How do we imitate and image a God whom we cannot see? Similar to the church at Corinth, we must watch and learn from other believers, just as my daughter watches and imitates me.
We can watch other Christians by being in community with them – through discipleship relationships, home groups, serving together, etc... As they imitate Christ in their humility, grace, joy, repentance, and love and point us to knowledge of God through the Word, we will visually see Christ in them and the Holy Spirit in us will help transform our hearts as we “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Col 3:10) The more we see God’s grace and love work itself out in the lives of other believers, the deeper we will love God and the more we will desire to imitate him through our own lives.
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