I admit I am not used to little girls. My granddaughter Ellie is the first girl born into my line of the Gooch clan in 35 years. Gooches produce boys. My sister’s only child is a boy. My brother has 2 boys and the one girl who preceded Ellie in the family. All 5 of their grandchildren are boys. Lisa and I raised 3 boys. We are accustomed to, as the old rhyme goes, “snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.” I am used to baseball, toy soldiers, nerf guns and wrestling. Playing dress up was never part of our life. When our boys were little, our biggest clothes battle was to get them to wear something beside their Star Wars underwear!
This past weekend Ellie stayed at Grandma and Grand-dad’s house (along with big brother Trayce) and I observed a most remarkable thing: my almost 2 year granddaughter walking around wearing oversized (and gaudy!) costume jewelry and wearing curlers in her hair. She was playing dress up! How interesting that Ellie is already imitating what she sees in the world. She’s trying to look like her Mommy and/or her Grandma – and she’s not even two yet!
Of course, we see people every day who play dress up, don’t we? They are trying to look like someone else. Whatever the current fad or fashion is, people are trying to follow it. I suppose to some degree that’s human nature and we are all driven, to one degree or another, to “fit in” and look like those around us. This isn’t inherently bad. If the one we are trying to imitate is a good example, then it’s entirely proper to try to look like, or be like, another. Not every example is a bad one.
For Christians, the goal is indeed to look like someone else: Jesus. In Ephesians 5:1, Paul wrote, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” The great apostle also exhorted the Corinthians to “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NKJV). The Greek word used here is “mimétés” and it is where we get our English word “mimic”. The word is best defined as “the positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation.” No one ever walked the earth more worthy of emulation than the Son of God, and the Bible makes it clear that God’s people are to do their best to look like Jesus!
However, such a goal must be clearly understood. We aren’t trying to actually look like Jesus because we don’t really know what Jesus looked like, do we? Instead, our calling is to mimic what the Lord did. The world should see Christ in our actions, our words and our attitude. Everything we say and do should be done in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17) so that the world we see through us the love, grace, mercy and sacrifice of the Lord.
In Philippians 2:5-8, Paul offered a description of what Jesus looked like to the world: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” To “dress up” like Jesus is to be a humble, obedient servant. Paul said that for us to accomplish this then the first step is that we must become selfless. “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3,4).
I think the message of the New Testament is clear. When those who are the church that Jesus built get dressed each day, we must be much more interested in looking like Jesus than in looking like the world!