“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
Be – The first day of class. All the students are a bit anxious. What will they have to learn to pass? The teacher hands out some paperwork. It’s the final exam! The teacher says, “You have one hour to complete the test. Your grade depends on your work so go to it.” Fortunately, you wake up. It was the nightmare exam.
If we don’t understand the verb in this verse, we will have the same nightmare experience. Paul is not asking us to complete the final exam on the first day. The verb here is ginomai. It means “to become”, not “to already, instantly be”. That’s the method of the apprentice. Watch, learn, practice, be corrected, practice again. Keep going over and over the lesson until it is fully absorbed. Become an imitator.
No one is a master craftsman by divine fiat. Not even Jesus. The Bible tells us that even Jesus learned obedience through suffering. He had to be taught. He had to watch what His Father was doing and copy it. So do we. Just because Jesus never missed an opportunity to learn and never made a mistake in his practice does not mean that he did not have to follow the path of training in obedience.
“Become imitators” is a command and a comfort. Imitation is the goal. Becoming is the process. You and I will often make mistakes in our training. We don’t pay attention to the lessons like Jesus did. We don’t have the same concentration and commitment. We often gaze out the window. But Jesus just keeps calling us back to the goal: copy me. Copy my attitude, my purpose, my commitment, my desire, my submission. Did you falter today? Did something throw you off track? Did you throw up your hands and say, “I just can’t do this right!” Go back and start again. This is not yet the final exam. There is still time to learn.