“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”
1 Corinthians 11:1
A few weeks ago, my kids had an early release day from school, giving me the rare opportunity to meet them and my wife for lunch on a weekday. They wanted to go to Chick-Fil-A, which was fine with me, but as usual, it was extremely crowded. In fact, it was even worse than usual since the other location in town was closed for renovations. Not wanting to fight the crowds, we ended up deciding to go to another fast food restaurant instead, which was located less than one block away from our original destination.
Aside from the employees, there were, at most, ten customers in the entire place. And that was including us! I wondered if the owners of this establishment had ever given any thought to studying Chick-Fil-A. Doing so seemed like a fairly logical idea, since Chick-Fil-A seems like the gold standard in fast food these days. They are the epitome of success in an industry that can be hard to thrive in even in the best of times. Every restaurant could probably benefit from attempting to imitate them, but few seem to do so.
Every sincere Christian who wants to grow closer to Christ should be looking for examples to follow, individuals to imitate. In one of his letters to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul is so bold as to identify himself as an excellent candidate for the early believers to seek to emulate. It sounds like a pretty arrogant statement, until you consider it in context.
The Christians in Corinth were impressed by the things their society found impressive; brilliant minds with impressive speaking abilities, neither of which Paul claimed to possess. In fact, Paul acknowledged he often embodied the very opposite. To some degree, this was intentional. As he understood his role as a follower of Jesus was to point others to Jesus, not to himself. And Jesus was not impressive by any worldly standards. He was forgiving, meek, humble and mild. He loved those the world deemed unlovable. He put others before himself, even to the point of dying on a cross.
Paul wasn’t arrogant. He just understood that in order to be like Jesus, a person must take their cues from Christlike individuals. It only makes logical sense to do so. So who are you seeking to imitate? The flashy? The impressive? The celebrity Christians? Or those whose quiet witness points you to Jesus? And are you an example worthy of imitation?