Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. – Charles Caleb Colton
What would you think if the preacher stood up on a Sunday morning and said, “I want you to be like me.”
Who does this arrogant fool think he is? What makes him so special that he thinks we should copy him? Isn’t humility supposed to be a Christian virtue?
Fortunately I’ve never heard a preacher actually say that. Or should that be unfortunately, because even with the risk of sounding boastful, this is precisely what St Paul said.
Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, 1 Thess 1:5-6
Paul seems to think that being imitated is a good thing. Even when imprisoned he said he wished people to be like him except for the chains.
So why is imitation a good thing? It all depends on who we are imitating.
For example, it would not be good to imitate the character Walter White. I have made a few heads turn when wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt because I look like actor Bryan Cranston, and I had the goatee beard first. I don’t look like Walter White, Walt looks like me. Ok, I’m a little bit greyer.
But why should we imitate Saint Paul?
Because he is imitating Christ.
That is what Paul is saying: Imitate the way I am imitating Christ. Which is a good place to start.
So if you notice that your church leader is bringing the Gospel to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction that’s a good person to imitate. After all it is by their fruit that you will know them.
So do I want you to imitate me? Can you see the Gospel coming not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction?
I’ll let you judge that.