Monday, December 27, 2010

The Problem with Mimicry

In the natural world, mimicry is often used by a species as a form of protection. Although now it is felt that the monarch and viceroy butterflies mimic each other, for the prior one hundred years the prevalent thought was that the viceroy mimicked the monarch butterfly, a bitter tasting insect, which discouraged avian predators from feasting on a tasty morsel. A bird, seeing the monarch pattern in the viceroy’s colors, would bypass it for another, more tasty, insect. Several animals, such as the ermine and the snowshoe hare, which are brown in the summer and white in the winter adapt to blend in with their surroundings. Their adaptation provides safety from their larger predators. While this is very effective in the natural realm, in the spiritual realm, spiritual mimicry is disastrous. Christians who blend in with the surroundings of the secular culture in which we live are charting a very dangerous course for their spiritual lives.

C. Stacy Woods, in his semi autobiographical book Some Ways of God states “Our failure to emphasize the radical and essential difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, between the Christian way of life and the non-Christian way of life, is a root cause of today’s weakness and spiritual ineffectiveness. If the world ignores Christians and ignores the church, it is because we fawn before the world, seek its favors and delicacies, and strive to imitate its ways.” He goes on to say that, compared to the world’s standards, a Christians value judgments, goals, life orientation and reactions are to be different. A Christian’s worldview should be vastly different from that of the secular culture around us.

The temptation we face to mimic the culture around us should not be ignored. It has a powerful effect upon our lives. We are tempted to engage in several types of mimicry, all of which weaken and destroy our spiritual lives. Cultural mimicry is a way for us to blend in with the world and prevents our being ridiculed for living a Christian lifestyle. By blending in with the culture around us, no one will know that we really are a Christian, even if they might be aware that we attend church on Sundays. They see us as having the same values and mores as they do. Success mimicry tempts us to model our churches after successful churches or dynamic secular models for the purpose of obtaining the same results as they have had. But just because a particular program or model has worked elsewhere doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for us. We are in a different place and God has a different plan for us. Peer mimicry is especially a problem among our youth as they attempt to identify with their friends. They can easily find themselves in compromising situations as they try to go along with and identify with the crowd.

The only mimicry acceptable in the Christian life is the mimicry of Jesus. He asks us to walk as he walked, to live as he lived, to pattern our lives after his life, and to have the same values as he did. He calls us to live incarnational lives so that others, seeing how we live our lives will see Christ through us. We are to be little Christs; imitators of God. We may be the only Christ they ever see. In this way we point to the difference Christ makes to our world. How we pattern our lives makes all the difference. Who are you mimicking, Jesus Christ or the world?

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