1 Corinthians 1: 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
If you watch a group of kids playing sports in the schoolyard and listen closely you will likely see and hear most of them emulating their favourite sports star. On the court playing basketball, they might be Lebron James going straight to the hoop with no fear. In my day the kids would have been doing the Michael Jordan fade away jumper in the last seconds of the game or his dunk from the foul line. The kids playing football might be imitating a Russell Wilson pass. Girls playing hockey might emulate Cammi Granato or Cassie Campbell, or those playing soccer might be Marta, or Mia Hamm or Christine Sinclair.
I was a soccer player growing up and with German roots my favourite player was Franz Beckenbauer. I played the same midfield position as him, I wore his number 5 on my uniform, and I tried to imitate his every move on the field. Kids around the world try to emulate their sports star so that maybe they might become like them one day.
There is something to the idea of imitating other athletes to become like them. Certainly if those you emulate have mastered their sport there is a great deal that kids can learn from watching them closely and trying to repeat their every motion. But when it comes to Christianity we have it all wrong if our goal is to just try to imitate Christ.
In the book of Acts (11:26b) we read that: “the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” It seems that the disciples didn’t call themselves Christians, but rather it was others who observed them and realized they were followers of the one called Christ. Was it that these disciples were acting like Christ, emulating what he had done? I really don’t believe this is what transpired because it would have been fake. I believe what the people were seeing was Christ actually living inside of these disciples.
You see when we accept Christ into our lives, it is exactly as it sounds, Jesus Christ enters into us, he imparts himself into us, and he should be replacing the old self who was once there. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NASB). In My Utmost for his Highest Daily Devotional Oswald Chambers says: “The most wonderful secret of living a holy life does not lie in imitating Jesus, but in letting the perfect qualities of Jesus exhibit themselves in my human flesh. Sanctification is “Christ in you…” (Colossians 1:27).
If you are a Christian, pray that through the power of sanctification, Jesus Christ would become more evident in our lives and that the old self would fade way. Pray for impartation, not imitation.