Imitating Jesus

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Who do we imitate in life? We imitate our parents, siblings, or friends. We imitate certain television stars, movie characters, or athletes. We imitate the attitudes or behaviors we respect or admire in others.

Before I went to school I wanted to imitate Superman. When I became a baseball fan, I wanted to imitate Mickey Mantle. Going through school, I wanted to imitate certain teachers or coaches. When I began to work, I tried to imitate particular leaders or mentors.

We are all a hodgepodge of the different people we have tried to imitate. Our imitating others can lead to tremendous qualities or terrible ones. Who we decide to imitate is very serious business.

Paul says, “Imitate me.” At face value this may sound arrogant. If that is all Paul said, we could be right to dismiss his presumption. But Paul says more. He says imitate him as he tries to imitate Christ. Paul doesn’t want us to imitate him because he’s so extraordinary. He wants us to imitate him as he tries to imitate the One who is truly incredible, and that’s Christ.

When we try to imitate Jesus there is a wonderful and awesome thing that happens. When we try to imitate Jesus we don’t, of course, become a copy of Jesus; but when we imitate Him we can become our most authentic and unique selves. In imitating Jesus we become more and more shaped into His likeness, whereby His thoughts more often become our own, His actions ours. If we try to slavishly copy what others do and say, we can lose ourselves. The very opposite is true when we try to imitate Jesus.

So, what about Jesus is worth imitating? His courage. Faithfulness. Kindness. Fairness. Perseverance. Maybe I can answer the question this way: What about Jesus isn’t worth trying to imitate?

When Paul encourages us to imitate him, he isn’t seeing himself as the paragon of all virtue. Instead, he wants us to imitate him as he imitates the One who is truly worth imitating—Jesus. In imitating Jesus, instead of becoming less of who we are, we become more of who we are meant to be.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who have you wanted to imitate during the different stages in your life?
  1. What were the characteristics or qualities you wanted to imitate?
  1. Does Jesus have a particular quality that you would most like—or most need—to imitate now? If so, which one?  If so, why?


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