“Just like Daddy” are three of the most gloriously terrifying words a father hears.
This is a popular phrase of my 3-year-old, who is simply following in the footsteps of his older brothers. Even though the older ones do not necessarily verbalize these words anymore, oftentimes their choices “say” them.
Children are hard-wired for imitation and learn most about life in their early years — for better or worse — by reflecting their (gulp!) daddy.
In the book of Genesis, man and woman were made in the image of God, not as equals to Him, but as representatives of Him (Genesis 1:26). They were designed to work in partnership with God to rule the earth and steward it as He would.
When the desires of our first parents went askew due to imitating a rebel of God (the devil) instead of God Himself, the DNA of imitation was badly marred. Many problems we face are the direct result of imitation, or the inability to imitate, so that jealousy and envy rule the day.
No wonder Jesus’ first words to His potential disciples are “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19). From the Gospels, we learn to imitate His self-giving love and dependence upon God. Through His ultimate act of love and dependence, He won for us new hearts with desires toward God when this good news is received with faith.
So when we talk about making disciples of Jesus, we must take this into consideration: We are to lead them to Him and then to be like Him. Paul says the very same words of Jesus with this one caveat, “imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Likewise, we are to model the life of Christ for those the Lord entrusts to us while pointing them to depend upon God and not us.
Imitation is more foundational than creation, though. The Son has been the perfect imitator of His Father for all eternity (John 5:19). When you imitate Christ and lead others to do the same, you participate in one of the most fundamental aspects of reality. This is essential to life, because from before creation even existed, the Son has always been with the Father saying, “Just like Daddy.”
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