Not to Imitate
One dictionary defines the verb "imitate" as follows:
–verb (used with object), -tat·ed, -tat·ing.
to follow or endeavor to follow as a model or example: to imitate an author's style; to imitate an older brother.
to mimic; impersonate: The students imitated the teacher behind her back.
to make a copy of; reproduce closely.
to have or assume the appearance of; simulate; resemble.
My review of Strong's concordance of words in the King James version of the Bible confirms that the words imitate, imitator and imitation are nowhere to be found.
And yet we note the Christian classic "The Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. Similarly, Andrew Murray's work "Like Christ".
Those who resolve to imitate Jesus in Christian service and graces will find that resolutions lead to disappointments. Indeed the requirements of the Sermon on the Mount will prove entirely unattainable but for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the impartation of the attributes of Christ to His disciple by faith, love and intimate acquaintance.
An interesting observation was made this morning in a Bible study. The oft-quoted passage in Matthew 11 about taking on the yoke of Christ reads in the KJV as follows;
"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me."
The NIV rendering says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me."
I tend to agree with the former.
The active word therefore must be impartation, not imitation. Time spent with the Master in prayer, scripture and Christian dialogue will facilitate this.
I find admonitions to follow Christ's example on two occasions. Foot-washing portrayed in John 13: 14,15. Patiently suffering abuse for righteousness' sake in 1 Peter 2: 21.
But the mustering and exercise of Christian virtues must be Spirit-breathed, God induced. Consider the promise of Ezekiel 36:
25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Work this work, Lord, for your glory.