Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Posted on 15 Sep 2013 in Christianity, Church, Teaching | 2 comments

Anybody with a sibling knows the annoyance of the copycat game, you know the one, where another person copies everything you say or do:

“Ugh! Stop copying me!”

“Ugh! Stop copying me!”

“I’m serious Brent!”

“I’m serous Brent!”

“I’m going to go tell mom!”

“I’m going to go tell mom!”

We’ve all been there, we’ve all experienced the negative side of being imitated.

But there are also positive examples: the popular kids game of simon says or any little kid who wants to be just like their parent when they grow up.

And this is what I think Paul is trying to get at when he tells us in Ephesians 5 to be imitators of Christ. Everything we do, think, or say should reflect that of Christ.

Which can also raise a troubling question: If we are supposed to think, act, say, and be like Christ….then how does Christ think and act?

Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:9 – goodness, righteousness, truth:

  1. Goodness deals primarily with a proper understanding of salvation and what pleases God. God’s goodness is witnessed by what makes him happy: creating and blessing, restoring relationships, promoting justice, demonstrating beauty,and providing harmony where there had been discord and strife. Goodness is seen in fair and equitable favor for everyone.
  2. Righteousness relates to covenant-faithfulness. It is God’s extravagant and generous sharing of love, grace, and forgiveness despite the sin and hurt caused by his people. A righteous person can be seen by the way they share what God has given them: are they generous, loving, sacrificial, or forgiving?
  3. Truth can best be defined as the ‘really real.’ People try hard to fill the void in their life with all sorts of fake gods or idols that they hope will satisfy: money, sex, power, authority, status, and sometimes less ominous things like spiritual disciplines. But God is what really lies behind all of that. When people seek significance, acceptance, or pleasure in earthly things, they always have to keep looking for more because there is always someone prettier, with more influence, or richer. The church must stand and point people to the ‘really real’. The only thing that can solve those thirsts: God’s unwavering and unending support, love, and grace. [pullquote]I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.[/pullquote]

So any person that really desires to imitate (or more literally ‘mimic’) God must be a person that lives these three core elements of God’s personality: creating shalom, extending generously towards others, and a life of really real.

We have four great areas to practice this in our lives:

  1. Family – Are we helpful, sacrifical, and committed to service within our homes and extended families?
  2. Friends – Are we investing in, encrouaging, caring, and blessing our friends, churches, and neighbors?
  3. Strangers – Do we intentionally seek relationships with those whom we don’t know, inviting them to join us, extending grace to them, and demonstrating hospitality?
  4. Outcasts – Jesus spent most of his ministry with the lowly, rejected, despised, forgotten, and worthless. Do you? How many relationships do you have with people outside of the church? Are you actively seeking justice for those whom society has deemed unacceptable or unworthy?

    English: Helping the homeless

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gandhi’s well known commentary on the downfall of Christianity speaks well here: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Western Christianity has, for too long, concerned itself too much with stances, doctrines, and regulations, and too little with being a people shaped and called by God. May we reclaim our call to be ‘little Christ’s’ and imitate the core characteristics of God.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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