little-leaguer

The little leaguer steps up the plate. He digs his cleats into the batter’s box, even though the ground is already worn deep and traction definitely isn’t an issue. He takes a couple of loose practice swings with big-league swagger. He spits, even though there’s really nothing in his mouth that needs to come out. He adjusts his pants, even though there’s no equipment underneath that really needs adjusting. He looks like a mini version of a Jeter or a Pujols or a Pedroia. He’d even wear the name if he could.

Why? Because, we conform to what we love. Kids do it with their favorite athletes and entertainers. Adults do it much more subtly, but we still adapt to the styles and trends of popular people. Our demeanor, habits, and appearance change. We often aren’t even aware of it; we simply follow our admiration to its natural conclusions.

Like they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I think it’s also the sincerest form of worship.

That, I believe, is the key to discipleship. If we conform to what we love, then the hard disciplines of the spirit aren’t necessarily the best way to grow. I’m not saying they aren’t ever helpful, of course. But while many people are training their behavior to be something it has never before been, some transform into a Christlike image much more organically, simply because of their passion. Instead of tending to their actions, they cultivate their love. And their love produces actions naturally.

imitationThat doesn’t mean there won’t be trials or pain in our lives. Jesus made it clear that we will have tribulation in this world, and life won’t always be easy. The disciples in Acts made a sobering statement about the kingdom involving hardships (Acts 14:22). But even while Paul and Silas were in prison, they sang joyful songs of praise. Jesus went to the cross not out of discipline but for the joy set before him (Hebrews 12:2). None of them were compelled primarily by their sense of obligation. They were moved by their passion.

I’m not saying a sense responsibility isn’t important. I’m saying simply that getting from point A and point B in our lives is usually a matter of moving in the direction of our loves. We grow wherever our hearts are pointed.

In fact, people in love will sacrifice an awful lot for the object of their love. And they don’t even consider it a sacrifice.

The greatest thing we can ever do in becoming a follower of Jesus is not to focus on the behavior that makes us look like him. It’s to focus on our love. When that grows, we grow with it. And whatever we see him doing will become as natural for us as a little leaguer’s moves at the plate. 

Click to tweet: Not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery. It’s also the sincerest form of worship.

Click to tweet: We grow wherever our hearts are pointed.

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©2013-19 by chris tiegreen