It is rush-hour traffic in Carrollton, which means Friday afternoon on 27 South towards Wal-Mart. There is a stressed-out woman who is tailgating a man. Suddenly the light ahead of him turns to yellow and he does the right thing by hitting his brakes and stopping. He could have hit the gas and sped through the red light, but he did the right thing.
Well, the stressed-out woman had hoped to make it through the light, and when she didn’t, she blew the horn and slammed on the steering wheel in frustration, uttering some expletives. In the middle of her ranting, she heard a tap, tap on her window. She looked up at the face of one very serious looking police officer. The officer asked her to exit the car and put her hands on the roof of the car. He took her down to the police station where she was fingerprinted and put into a cell. After a couple of hours, a policeman came to her cell, opened the door, and escorted her to a desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, “I’m sorry for the mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were honking your horn, making obscene gestures, and cussing a blue streak at the man in front of you. I noticed the ‘God loves you’ frame around your license plate, the ‘What would Jesus do?’ bumper sticker, and the First Baptist Church decal in the window. Naturally I assumed the car was stolen.”
Who are your role models? Paul says in Philippians 3:17 that we can model our lives after him: “Brethren, join in following my example.” Is that an arrogant statement? In those days, the early Christians didn’t have a Christian grandmother as a role model. This is in the early days of our faith. There were no Christian grandmothers, or aunts and uncles to show the way.
How did you get the Christian faith? It might be from what some call kneeology: You learned it at your mom’s or grandmother’s knee. Walk into homes around this city and notice the signs everywhere: “Back door guests are best,” “Kiss the cook,” “Irene’s Kitchen,” and “When God closes a door, he opens a window.”
Those early Christians didn’t have that. And they also didn’t have a Bible. It wasn’t nearly complete and certainly not available for the masses. So, Paul says we can hold him up as a role model. “Follow me as an example,” Paul says. “Look at me.”
In America we pride ourselves on being independent and being unique. But the truth is, we all imitate others. Guess how we learn to speak? By imitating our parents. We learn to walk by watching others too. And as we get older we imitate our friends in high school; sometimes that can be good and sometimes not. Some of the things we imitate are innocent, like a southern drawl or how you hold a fork. But other more important things like our work ethic, how we treat others, and church attendance, we pick up from others.
So, Paul says that we can imitate him. Can you say that to others? And, by the way, how’s your driving?