Many years ago, as a young man, I crossed the Bridge of the Americas into Juarez, Mexico from El Paso. My mission was to find a cheap, reconstructed Rolex. Rich people wore Rolexes and I wanted to appear more impressive than I was. I could not be rich, so I opted to fool people.
At the Juarez marketplace, they had a lot of Rolexes. Some had quartz movement where each second ticked off visibly. But everybody knows that on a real Rolex, the second hand “sweeps”. That’s the knock-off you want.
I loved my $50 Rolex and I guess I still have it around somewhere tucked into a drawer. At some point, the cheap movement cratered and I didn’t have the inclination to get it fixed. Since then, I have chosen to wear watches from WalMart. For $12.99, you can get a decent watch. When it breaks, throw it away and buy another one.
But for a while, I was able to make people think I was really somebody. They would notice the watch and I could tell they were impressed. But the truth? I was just poor oilfield trash... a cheap imitation wearing a cheap imitation.
In the last verse of our text in this sermon series on anxiety and worry, Paul exhorts the Philippian church, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).
The stuff I told you? Live it! The things you’ve seen me do? Practice those things. The result? God will be with you. And you will have His peace.
This is a consistent message from Paul. He essentially tells Timothy to do the same thing. “Live according to the things you learned from your grandmother, your mother, and me.” He tells the church in Corinth, “Imitate me” (1 Cor. 11.1).
At first glance, we might be tempted to think that Paul is a bit full of himself—that pride has wormed its way into Paul’s psyche. “Yep, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.”
But that is not at all what Paul is saying. To get some context for 1 Corinthians 11, we must go back to the last few verses of chapter 10. Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Paul is no cheap imitation. He’s not out to fool anyone. He is the real deal—a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ. Is his imitation of Jesus perfect? Not by a long shot. Elsewhere, Paul refers to himself as the “chief sinner”, a “wretched man.” But he is walking with Jesus—learning from Jesus. As an apprentice of the Master, Paul is becoming more and more like Jesus with each passing day.
He reaches a point where he is confident in saying to the Philippians, the Corinthians, and to Timothy, “Imitate my life… because it is modeled after Christ.”
Can you and I make the same statement?
Is there anything in our lives worth imitating?
What areas of our lives need improvement? Our language? Our habits? Our treatment of others?
Am I the person I want my children to become?
Am I a reflection of Jesus to my children, my family, my co-workers, my friends?
Church family, we do not want to be cheap imitations of Jesus. There are already enough of those walking around. No, when it comes to imitating Christ, we want to be the real deal. We want to be people who constantly strive to know Him better; people who talk to Him in prayer; people who confess our transgressions and really work to do better.
Our kids are watching. Our peers are watching. And most importantly, God is watching.
May our walk and our talk be in alignment with the One we claim to follow so that we can lose the anxiety and receive the presence and peace of God.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Whosoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 9:23; 14:33).