The Motion Picture Academy award-winning, Imitation Game, held me spellbound.
Alan Turning, a British mathematician joined a team of cryptographers to decipher the German enigma war code during World War II. With the help of a genius team, he built a machine that cracked one of the most difficult codes in history. His creation enabled him to “imitate” the Nazis, discover their battle commands and would be a deciding factor in the Allied forces’ victory.
The movie was named Imitation Game because Touring wrote a paper in 1960 where he described a game that is really a test to determine if computers can think, and “imitate” the human mind.
Everyone imitates…from brilliant scientists to small kids. Everywhere you look in every field of endeavour, humanity is drawn to imitate others.
Pre-school kids push their plastic mower behind Dad as he cuts the front lawn. Young punks imitate hardened gang leaders. Churchill studied the pantheon of Greek orators to hone his craft of political speech-making.
We are all born imitators of someone, whether for good or for evil. Who are you imitating? The truth is someone is writing the playbook for our lives.
The Gospel writer Luke tells us that once when Jesus was praying, his disciples were so mesmerized by Christ’s connection with his heavenly Father through prayer, they said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1)
We know that imitation is a critical success factor in Christian discipleship because Jesus himself modelled the way of imitation for us. Consider his remarkable statement,
“The Son can only do what he sees his Father doing,
because whatever the Father does the Son does also.” (John 5:19)
Imitation is sine qua non of Christian discipleship. The spiritual discipline of imitation is nestled right at the heart of our soul formation as Christ-followers.
Everywhere Paul travelled in his missionary journeys he put imitation on the marquee.
“Be imitators of God, therefore and live a life of love.”
“Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1)
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord….”
(1 Thessalonians 1:6)
Christian imitation is not about cultural group think. It is not about imitating personal idiosyncrasies in those we admire. It’s about conforming the pattern of our lives to the pattern of the One who has set the pace for us.
When we practise the spiritual discipline of imitation, we are fixing our eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) and seeking to live out the virtues, character and truth he modelled for us.
The aged Apostle John makes it clear that anyone who claims to be a Christ-follower, “ought himself to walk in the same manner as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)
And how did Christ walk?
In humility, compassion, and forgiveness.
In service, prayer, and suffering for others.
In embracing tribulation, pursuing justice, and living simply.
Christian discipleship means learning from Jesus and being conformed to his likeness.
It means learning from our spiritual leaders and imitating their faith. (Hebrews 13:11)
It means becoming a model for others to follow. (1 Thessalonians 1:8)
There is no higher vision for our lives. It’s all about Christian imitation.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been perfect…
but this one thing I do…I press on. Join with others in following my example,
brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
Blessings for a good week of Christian imitation ahead.