We are in a series here on the blog that I am calling Copycat Christianity. If you missed the first few posts, basically, we have defined "copycat Christianity" as the imitation of someone else's faith in Jesus rather than having a genuine relationship with God through Christ yourself.
Last week, we used tips from the game of dodgeball to help us consider how to avoid Copycat Christianity. But what should you do if you realize you've been "hit" and find yourself merely copying the faith and thinking of your favorite podcasted pastor rather than copying the way of Jesus?
There is an age-old preaching illustration (used by endless numbers of pastors) that says when a bank wants to teach a new teller how to recognize a counterfeit bill, they don't start by showing the new employee a bunch of fakes. Rather, they begin by studying a real bill, teaching some key identification markers that will then help the employee recognize the counterfeit. (By the way, turns out the overused illustration is true.)
Just as a counterfeit bill is a poor imitation of the genuine thing, a copycat faith is a poor imitation of what God wants to do in you and through you. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome, the Father's goal is for you "to be conformed to the image of his Son," (Romans 8:29), not to be conformed to the image of your Grandma, as godly as she might be.
This means, to be a genuine Jesus-follower, you need to focus on Jesus first and foremost, giving the majority of your time, attention, and affection to the real thing, not the imitation.
The best way, in my opinion, to focus on Jesus first is to engage in the common spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture-intake, and gathering:
Because you don't pray to your earthly Christian idol (at least I hope you don't!), prayer is a GREAT way to keep Jesus at the forefront of your affections.
To make sure you are imitating Jesus, read the Scriptures daily, which are all about Him. (If you need a Bible reading plan, you can use some found in the YouVersion Bible app, or download one from our Freebies page.)
Being around other Christians who are genuinely following Jesus can also help protect you from becoming a copycat. They can help you notice when you quote a particular author or celebrity pastor too much, or when you seem to be merely repeating the talking points of a particular tribe of Christianity.
The last "discipline" I will mention which I believe can help protect you from Copycat Christianity is simply to take a break. By this, I mean entering into a season where you "rest" from certain authors, podcasters, Christian celebrities, etc. If you find yourself quoting a particular Christian leader more than quoting Scripture, you might need to take some time away from that leader's YouTube channel, so you can give more time to the other three disciplines and get back to putting Jesus first in your spiritual growth.
To end, let me encourage you to not wait until you realize you've turned into a copycat Christian. Rather, be proactive, using prayer, Scripture, and fellow Jesus-followers like a shield that can protect you from the drift toward faith-mimicry. You'll be thankful for the time with Jesus and surprised at how God shines His image through you as you imitate Christ.
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