“Never imitated. Never duplicated.” Product teasers look to point out the unique features of their item. Distinguishing one item from the other may mean the difference in being in the “black” or in the “red.” Often people think the aim is unique individuality. The problem is our “style” is often a result of a complex matrix unconsciously borrowed from others. We may highlight one aspect more than another and so bring some distinction, but really we tend to take in a host of impulses and create what we like to call our own.
The Apostle Paul applauds imitation. That is, when we are looking around for those influences that give shape to our lives, imitate Jesus. For the Jesus follower who understands the world in a new way under the rule and reign of Jesus, the Christ, this makes complete sense. Subverting an old “style” following a different way of looking at the world comes in finding and following those whose lived have taken the shape of Jesus. You and I bear the responsibility and the opportunity to be a sign and signpost of the shape of Jesus in the world.
Skeptics will claim we follow inadequately. The criticism is self-revealing. Each skeptic self-selects one or more who live into their ideals and then applaud them. You could say the distinctive markers have been given by Jesus – our love for God and love for others that grows from the transforming work of the Spirit. Our dependence on the Spirit for this transformation is one of the features of our Lenten reflections.
Who are you imitating?