“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, KJV)
When I was a child, one of the things us kids would do is mimic the actions of another. Oh, my brother, sister, and I took this to extremes, usually as a way of irritating one another. Yet, I also found that mimicking could be a good thing. I could watch someone doing something that required a certain skill level and try to replicate their moves exactly. In doing so, I could more closely replicate their expertise.
When I was in the fourth grade, I began playing baseball in the local little-league. I was an average player. My dad would work with me in the backyard playing catch. He was also into baseball as a coach of one of the Trenton, New Jersey league teams. So, baseball was one of our family’s things. Well, dad taught me how to throw and catch baseball.
Yet, as I watched the baseball games on the television, I noticed that on every play the pitcher would have the ball and throw it to the catcher. I was intrigued by the way the pitchers had a wind-up prior to releasing the ball. So, I went out in the backyard and drew a mental square on the cinderblock wall of the garage. Then I tried to imitate the wind-up of the professional pitchers I saw on the television. I spent hours perfecting this move trying to hit a specific spot on the wall.
One day while at the little-league game, I began to warm up with another person by throwing the ball back and forth. However, I started with the wind-up that I had been practicing in the back yard. The coach saw what I was doing and came over. He asked what I was doing and I said, I was throwing the ball like those guys on the television. He had me throw the ball to him a few times and then the catcher. The next thing you know I was one of the starting pitchers on the team.
Well, I never got as good as those guys on the television. I did not stick with it after we moved from Trenton. Who knows, how good I could have been if I had stuck with the game. However, I know that my attempt to be like the best of the best, definitely improved my game.
Here Paul brings a universal truth to bear. We should mimic the best of the best, Jesus Christ. In this short verse, Paul indicated that believers should be “followers” of him as he also followed Christ. In this verse the word, “followers” is the plural of mimetes, which traces to the root word mimos, referring to a mimic (Strong G3402). Paul indicated that believers are to be mimics or imitators. Paul is not saying that we should imitate him, though even this would be a very high standard. No, he indicated that we should imitate him as he imitated Christ. He indicated that the goal should be to imitate the best of the best, Jesus Christ.
This command to imitate is in the context of considering others and sacrificing of oneself for their sake. We should love others like Christ loved us and as a result act towards others as He acted towards us. Jesus was obedient to the Father, sacrificing Himself, for our benefit. Granted, no human being will fully succeed at this, but all believers have the Spirit of Christ within them (Rom 8:9-11), and thus the power to succeed. Yet, the practical outworking of this is a lifelong pursuit for every believer.
Paul understood this writing, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12, KJV). Thus, in imitating Paul, we are to imitate his lifelong passionate pursuit of Christ and his righteousness.