Every now and again Aileen gets into cooking shows. Every time she does, it works out well for me. And for her. And for the kids. It could be Top Chef or Master Chef. It could be The Final Table or The Great British Bake Off. It doesn’t really matter. She starts watching and before long she gets cooking.
Sometimes she watches these shows because Netflix shoves them in her face. Sometimes she watches them because she has grown weary of the humdrum of preparing dinner every day and goes looking for motivation. But either way, the shows inspire her with interesting ingredients, creative recipes, fresh ideas. She watches, she imitates, and what she sees on the screen soon appears on our table.
Whether in narrow pursuits like cooking or wider pursuits like living, we are people who thrive on imitation and inspiration. Whether deliberately or inadvertently we are always on the lookout for people who are worthy of imitation. Whether by design or happenstance we search for inspiration. Aspiring chefs seek out, carefully watch, and closely imitate experienced chefs. Novice writers seek out experienced writers, younger women older women, new pastors seasoned pastors. God has designed us in such a way that we learn best by example. We need living textbooks.
Cooking shows are meant to be entertaining, but they are also meant to be inspiring. They are meant to attract viewers, but also to inspire imitators. And in that way they are a little glimpse of the way we should all live our lives. For in some ways every life should be a show, a display, a public demonstration—a show of virtue, a display of character, a demonstration of practical godliness. Every life should be lived in such a way that it inspires others to imitate it. Even as we follow our Savior, we must willing and eager to have people follow us. Like Paul we should say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Just as we have all longed for an example to follow, we must provide an example for others to follow. Just as we have longed to be imitators, we must be eager and willing to be imitated.