1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Besides in the arena of comedy where imitation is entertaining, imitation usually has a negative connotation. For example, if you see a nice-looking leather jacket in a clothing store then find out that it's imitation leather, suddenly it doesn't look as nice as you first thought it did. Another thing that I've seen that is still puzzling to me is imitation crab meat. What in the world is that about? You wonder what is in it and you hesitate to eat it. The real thing is always much more preferrable than any imitation of it.
In ministry, people are encouraged to be themselves instead of trying to imitate someone that they admire or who has been a good influence in their lives. "Be yourself" is good advice for anyone in ministry or in any other arena, for that matter. With that being true, why did the Apostle Paul have the temerity to tell the Christians in Corinth (and tell us today as well) to imitate him? Would we not be better off imitating Christ Jesus than imitating Him? To start with, he did say to imitate him "as he imitates Christ." While Jesus was on earth, He was the exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3), because He was in fact God. But when He rose from the grave and then ascended to the Father after spending forty more days on earth giving final instructions to His disciples, then the representation of God shifted to His disciples. It was now up to the disciples to be representatives and ambassadors of Jesus on earth. Jesus said that He was the Light of the World, and He still is and always will be that Light (John 8:12). But He also told His disciples that they were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Jesus said that knowing full well His plan to restore us back to fellowship with God the Father by paying the price for our sins on the Cross and exhibiting His authority over death by rising from dead. He told His disciples that after He ascended, He would send the Holy Spirit (His Spirit) to dwell in them. That's what would make them the light of the world. Jesus, the Light of the World, would live in His disciples and through them, continuing to shine His saving light into our dark world.
We, too, are participants of this great miracle and plan and when we are true followers of Jesus (not just in name only), filled with the Holy Spirit after surrendering our lives completely to Him, then we become the light of the world. When we live as the light with Christ leading the way, then it is safe for anyone to imitate us because it will be Christ in us that they will be imitating. The Apostle Paul's words saying that we should imitate him as he imitates Christ was not braggadocio, but a statement of faith knowing that Jesus was fully alive in him. Let's fully surrender our lives to our Lord Jesus because in doing so, we will not only live in love, joy, peace and victory, but we will be an example of who Jesus is, making it very safe and good for people to imitate us. To God be all the glory!
Pastor Joey Vazquez