Posted by: mikenicholsblog | October 5, 2015

imitate me

The year was 1991 when Gatorade first aired the “Be like Mike” campaign. If you like sports, Gatorade, or were simply alive in 1991, those words probably still resonate. Interesting enough, in 2015 Gatorade brought back the 1991 “Be like Mike” campaign. Although, in my area of the country, the newer commercial probably should have read “Be like Lebron.” Simply stated from a basketball standpoint, every aspiring player would have liked to “Be like Mike” (Lebron…sorry). When we broaden the landscape, who would any of us like to imitate in life? Athletically, professionally and most importantly, spiritually?  And without sounding like a very egotistical person, who of us would ever say … ”Imitate me?”

I know a man who did, and he was anything but egotistical in using those words. Paul was a man who was transformed from persecutor to humble servant. This radically changed man was used to pen a significant portion of the New Testament. The words of Charles Swindoll on the cover of his great work, Paul: A Man of Grace and Grit, paint a very appropriate picture of the man who was willing to say, “Imitate me.”

 “How does this cold-blooded murderer of God’s saints become perhaps the greatest Christian leader ever known? There’s only one way; He came face to face with the great Transformer—Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He encountered the Light, and the Light led him out of the darkness of sin into the brilliance of God’s forgiveness. —-He was a man of real grit, with a firmness of mind and spirit and unyielding courage in the face of personal hardship and danger.  Tough, tenacious, and fiercely relentless, Paul pursued his divine mission with unflinching resolve. And God used him mightily to turn the world upside down for Christ in his generation.”
– Charles Swindoll

To view Paul, as he served the risen Savior, was to see a man of faith, grace, and humility. He knew where God had brought him from. So when we read words like “imitate me,” how should we respond? There is something in all of us that repels the notion of telling others to imitate our lives. We are far too familiar with all of our weaknesses and faults to voice such words. So how do we view what this powerful servant said?

So I urge you to imitate me.  He could tell the Corinthians to imitate or follow his example, because his life bore the resemblance of a man fully devoted to Christ and living out the principles of God’s Word.
I Corinthians 4:16

And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ. This verse is set in the context of Christian liberty. Paul was giving the Corinthians counsel on following his example of exercising and practicing liberty in Christ. Paul was not being arrogant, but he was living out his faith in a marvelous way. Who better for other believers to imitate? He could appropriately say “imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.”
I Corinthians 11:1

So, should you and I ever look at other believers and say “imitate me?” A better question may be, is our faith bearing witness to the unspoken words “imitate me” written across our lives?

Make no mistake, carrying the banner of Christ has responsibilities. Christ-followers and those outside of Christ can see the evidence in our lives. Sure we are not perfect (Paul knew he wasn’t), but we are responsible to continually grow in our love for God, and love for others. If we do, maybe the words “imitate me”, although unspoken, are meaningful.

I will never say “be like Mike”
and you and I may never say “be like me,”
but I trust our lives will warrant the words.


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