Haven’t photocopiers come a long way!
Are you old enough to remember mimeograph machines? Are you glad we don’t have to use them anymore? These days we take photocopiers for granted. Without a second thought, we can go to a photocopier with a copy of a copy, and make ourselves our very own copy of a copy of a copy. By and large, the machines do a pretty good job. But, as good as it is, our copy doesn’t exactly match the genuine article, does it? Look closely and you can tell it’s a copy of a copy of a copy, not the original.
Still, if you take the original document and make your own copy, it’s often very hard to tell the copy from the original. Sometimes you just can’t pick it (without getting a magnifying glass out). It looks very genuine indeed.
When you look at Churchianity today, you’re looking at copies of copies of copies of copies of copies—2000 years' worth! And then when you consider all the changes which were quite brazenly brought in from paganism, it’s no wonder that today it looks very different from the first century church.
Hebrews 13, written to first century Hebrew Christians, urges them to imitate the faith of the ones who had taught them (i.e. Christ's first disciples). Then the very next words are, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:7-8). If we’re going to follow Jesus and imitate the faith of his apostles, we’re going to have to “fix our eyes on Jesus” and emulate the original, not copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies. Jesus hasn’t changed. The faith we’re to imitate hasn’t changed (Jude 3). The closer we focus on them, the closer to the original we’ll be.
So copying — imitating — is encouraged in the scriptures. In fact, imitation is essential to discipleship. Jesus says in Luke 6:40, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone having been fully trained will be like his teacher.” That takes imitation. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore I exhort you, become imitators of me.” And later, chapter 11 starts, “Become imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
There are several instructions in scripture for Christians to imitate others. Hebrews 13:7-8 is just one of them, and it has something to say to us today. The readers were told to imitate the faith of those leaders who had taught them the word of God. Who were those people? The apostles and early saints, some of whom we read about in the book of Acts. So even though we’ve never met them personally, we too can “consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
The key thing for us in the 21st century is to look to the original as described in scripture, and imitate that — not the copies of copies of copies which we see in today’s religious world. It’s like what Jeremiah 6:16 urges: “Thus says Yahweh: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your inner selves.” [LEB] Just as Jeremiah reports that his hearers said, 'We will not walk in it,' so too we meet that reaction today. But that shouldn’t stop us from doing it!
If we say that God’s Way — The Way — is a better way, but don’t do it, our “actions deny it”. If we’re not at least trying to do it, our actions are saying God’s way isn’t as good as modern-day Churchianity.
So…are we there yet?
Have we laid hold of that prize to which we were called?
Has any of us arrived?
No...because we’re humans.
If we ever start thinking we’ve arrived, we’re in danger of never getting there.
We must press on.
So, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s lay aside every impediment and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let's run with patient endurance the race that has been set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of faith.
IMITATING THE ORIGINAL
“Christianity is so entangled with the world that millions
never guess how radically they have missed the New Testament pattern. Compromise is everywhere.”
— A W Tozer
is far above
is the everlasting way
is the way of peace & salvation
is therefore worth the effort to learn more accurately