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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Imitating others.

Earlier in the week, it was reported that heavy objects had been thrown, from bridges, at cars passing underneath, in the Blackburn area of West Lothian.  Thankfully, on those occasions, no-one was hurt but, as an Inspector from the Lothian and Borders Police Force stated: "... there is every chance this mindless vandalism could have had serious consequences."

One theory is that the perpetrator(s) of  those incidents were copying the actions of others that had happened, last week, in the Chelmford area of Essex.  Police officers are well aware of so-called 'copy-cat' crimes of one sort or another!

Copying the actions, and lifestyle, of someone else seems to be a natural trait among human beings - and, indeed, among other species as well.  It is, of course how our young learn the basics of life.  A child will copy its parents in all sorts of ways.  If a parent wants to know what (s)he is really like, (s)he only has to watch the child(ren)!  Some copying, of course, is frowned upon - and there were, recently, a number of publicised cases of plagiarism, when someone takes the words of another, and passes them off as his/her own work!  Indeed, the son of the late Muammar Q'adaffi is alleged to have gained his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics by a combination of plagiarism and cash donations!

The important thing about copying others, is that we choose the right person to emulate.  One of the problems in our contemporary society and culture is that a sizeable minority of young people choose poor role models!  Of course, those in the public eye don't always help by the way in which they act!

The apostle, Paul, knew a bit about copying someone else.  Writing to the disciples of Jesus in first-century Corinth - a city that was a byword for loose and licentious living - he urged: "... be imitators of me." (I Cor 4:16).  When we learn something about the life of the apostle, then we can see that he would have been an excellent role model.

However, it would appear that, as he continued to dictate the letter to his amanuensis (secretary!), he realised that he wasn't giving the Corinthian believers a good enough role model in himself.  So, later on, we find him saying "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." (11:1; my emphasis!).  What a difference those few extra words make!  Imitating, copying, Jesus!  Having Him as my role model!  I know that I'll never match up to the example that He gives me - of love, compassion, self-sacrifice, devotion, holiness, etc., etc.  But I can try!

And I already have the assurance that He will help me in the process that theologians refer to as "sanctification" (a full chapter on it in the forthcoming book!!).  That's what sanctification is all about - becoming more and more like Jesus.  It's something that I will never fully attain in this life, but it's a goal worth aiming for.

Perhaps if more of us were to "copy Jesus" (or even Paul!) our world would be a safer, and a better, place!

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