"My dear friend, do not imitate what is bad, but imitate what is good. Whoever does good belongs to God; whoever does what is bad has not seen God." (3John 1:11)
This week Patti and I are leading a group from our church on an adventure in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area. We began our trip Monday with a visit to Pohick Episcopal Church (the church George Washington and attended and served as a vestryman), moved on to Mt. Vernon, and ended the day with a picnic at a small park with a pretty amazing location. The park is situated right at the end of the runway of Reagan National Airport. We ate our pizza as we watched the jets take off so close to the top of our heads that we were sure the pilots could look down and tell if we were eating plain cheese or pepperoni and cheese pizza.
We were separated from the end of the runway by a very small inlet from the river, where several ducks plied the waters and scrambled onto the banks trying to seduce picnickers into feeding them. Suddenly a new guy flew into the gathering of ducks near us, maneuvering like the planes overhead to get his "flaps" in position and his "landing gear" up or down as needed for the landing or take offs. "Look at me," he seemed to say, "I can do that too," as he tried to steal the show from the planes overhead.
Today I stood in the gallery dedicated to the work of the Wright brothers at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. As I walked around the large room I admired their airplane that made the first powered flight and was the centerpiece of the display. However, I also was struck by the fact that the curators had taken care to tell the story of how the Wright brothers had made their historic flight by imitating and building upon the earlier research and findings of others. My thoughts returned to that little duck I'd seen coming in for a landing. Look at the two photos one more time. Hmm... wings... landing gear... Looks like I can fly across the country in a jetliner because a whole lot of folks learned how to imitate a duck.
There's so much to be learned from imitating and building upon a healthy model, and so much to be lost from imitating the bad ones. It's such a simple principle, but one we seem to quickly ignore if it suits our fancy. As Christians we are called to imitate Christ so that others might see Christ in us and also want to imitate what they see. I don't know about the rest of you, but I know that sometimes I get tired of being a role model. There are times when I just want to not have to care that others might be watching me to see if they can gain something from the Christ in me that they need and want to imitate. I guess those times when I'm tired are the times when I most need to be on my guard and remind myself that people really are watching.
I give thanks to God for those in whom I've seen Christ and watched so I could imitate. I pray that God will give me strength, patience, and perseverance so others will see Christ in me and want to imitate that Divine Love. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.
Check out my new video, "Teens Surviving the Storm"