There’s a lot of talk around these days about role models. I was at Anfield last Saturday watching Liverpool offer a model of how other football teams should play. (Cough) Celebrities who misbehave in public are scolded about their responsibility to be role models for children and young people – despite the fact that most of the time they just get on with living and don’t think about people copying them.
The imitation game is an odd thing, isn’t it? I have never been one of those to follow a trend or want to look or be like someone else. I’ve never been afflicted with the burning need to dress like Elvis Presley or walk like Christiano Ronaldo – to have the gift of the gab like Chris Evans or write like Jane Austen. Obviously.
But, despite my protestations to the contrary, I think I’m kidding myself if I think there is no subconscious stuff going on in there somewhere. Deep in our heartlands we nurture models of how we would like to be or what we would like to look like. Our imagination sometimes plays games – like when you stand in front of the mirror and, for a few moments, pose like Lady GaGa or pout like Harry Stiles. (I can’t help thinking I’ve used bad examples there…)
Anyway, I’m fibbing big time, if I claim to opt out of the imitation game. I am a Christian – that fact motivates everything else for me. And this means – very simply – that I try to imitate the Jesus I read about in the gospels. It’s as simple as that. Although we complicate it a million times, Christian faith is surprisingly simple: the Christian answer to the question “What does God look like?” is “he looks like Jesus”. Which begs the question “What does Jesus look like?” And the answer is: “Read the gospels and look at people who claim his name.” The task of the Christian is to imitate the Jesus of the Gospels.
Like lots of Elvis imitators I have come across over the years, the imitation isn’t always successful and is frequently embarrassing. But, this shouldn’t put us off the task itself. I’ll never win a Bafta – but it won’t be for the want of persistence.