Authentic Imitators

Created to Create, Part 3

By Visual Faith® Coach Valerie Matyas for the 2022 Creative Haven Retreat

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)

I am, by nature, a farm girl. I know where milk comes from, how eggs are produced, and I fully understand that ground beef does not, in fact, come from the ground. I can spot a real stalk of wheat from an artificial stalk found in craft stores. When it comes to anything on the farm, I can distinguish a replica from the authentic.

Recently, I had an opportunity to stay in a beautiful home on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. I enjoyed taking multiple walks on the beach, right where the water met the sand. Littered along the coast were a variety of shells, I was amazed by the variations of size, color, texture, and shape. The house in which we lodged boasted an exuberant décor of seashells: in every corner, on every wall, upon every shelf sat countless shells ready to be admired.

The more I thought about those shells, the more I realized that I had no way of distinguishing a real shell from a factory produced shell. The shells I was most familiar with came in tidy bundles in the craft aisle of my local dollar store. Had those shells been harvested from a beach? Surely, the shells for sale had been made in a factory, right? But what was the difference??

Upon further reflection, I was ashamed to discover that my ignorance about shells led me to a ridiculous worldview that amounted to some mythical being taking factory made shells and scattering them on the shore for tourists to find. (How else do I account for those imitation shells I buy at the store just miles from my house showing up on a beach by the ocean?) I tacitly believed in some kind of demented Easter Bunny, only instead of eggs, it was seashells.

Bottom line: I cannot tell an artificial shell from an authentic shell.

We are called to be imitators of Christ. We are not replicas or artificial stand-ins; we are imitators. Our job is not to be a nice decoration or to be a cheaper version of something most people can get in real life. Instead, in our imitation of Christ, we actually bear and deliver and, at times, even represent the real Jesus to other people.

We are created in the image of God and we are being transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to be more and more like Christ so that we can be a blessing to our families, our communities, our homes, and our church. Not perfectly, of course; but authentically.

On this side of eternity, I can only imitate Christ in an imperfect way; and I can only do that because of the grace and power poured out from the Holy Spirit. When the last trumpet sounds, I will no longer have to struggle to imitate Jesus; I will naturally and authentically be Christ-like. My glorified body will match Christ’s body. I will be without sin—pure, holy, blameless. I will be the genuine thing, the real deal, the very person that I was intended to be from the beginning of time.

I do not want to be an artificial Christ, a poor substitute, an easily spotted phony, there just for show with no real benefit. I want to imitate Christ, and deliver Christ, and embody Christ; not for my salvation’s sake, but for the greater good of this broken creation.

I may be an imperfect imitator; but Jesus, who is present in me and through me, is the real deal.


Reflection Questions

Think carefully about artificial, nature-like items found in craft stores. How do they beautifully replicate the actual item? In what ways do they fall short? How do we imitate Christ in our everyday life? In what areas might we consider being a bit more Christ-like?


Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for fearfully and wonderfully
making me by Your divine design.

Lord, you and I both know that I am broken.
I am in need of Your Son, my Savior.
Lord, thank you for sending me Your Holy Spirit,
who calls me, enlightens me, and keeps me in the one true faith.

Please continue to allow the transforming of Your Spirit,
so that I can continue to be transformed in the image of Christ.
In this valley of sorrow, grant me the strength and peace
to continue to be an imitator of Christ,
and see me safely to the other side.
In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

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