Clapham Christian Classical School

Clapham Journal

We are Imitators

by Heather Hagenberg, Director of Admissions and Administration

As the Games of the XXX Olympiad wind down in London, gold medal winners the world over continue to  inspire our youth to do as they do.  Many children watched Gabby Douglas spring to gold and, with their arms in dismount position, proudly announced to parents that they will be a gymnast like Gabby one day. Energetic boys have watched Usain Bolt and are running laps around the kitchen island, determined to become the fastest man in the world.

Gabby Douglas

 

At the conference our Clapham Leadership Team attended last month, Andrew Kern, founder of The CiRCE Institute, discussed this idea of imitation in his talk Contemplation of Creation, “we cannot not imitate. The question is, who are we imitating?”

 

The claim Andrew makes that sticks out so poignantly is the idea that humans cannot help but to imitate.  Regardless of who we are exposed to or who we aspire to be, we will imitate someone.

 

Our approach at Clapham, like most classical schools, is to put truth, goodness and beauty in front of the students to help them learn to love and long for these noble ideals. But, in addition to exposing them to these things, we also teach them to imitate what they learn from the great masters of art, poetry, literature, music, match, etc.

 

It is hard work to learn to imitate van Gogh or Longfellow, but this continued discipline of imitation helps train the affections so that the students love these artists and their work and they long to imitate them.

 

This discipline has deep spiritual implications as well. If it’s true that we cannot not imitate, we will learn to imitate those who we are exposed to.  We cannot imitate the radiant image of Christ if we do not know Him.  If to be human is to imitate, then when Scripture calls us to imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 5:1), we are already on our way if we have also learned the disciplines of imitation in other spheres as well.

 

What we must do is take hold of our disposition for imitation and channel that energy towards the person of Jesus. Thus, to achieve the joyful command Paul charges us with, we must expose ourselves to Christ, daily. We must learn about Him, hear what He says, and observe His commands and mercies so that we know not just who but what we are to imitate. We can reap the benefits of imitating talented role models around us, and even by imitating dear friends whose ministry inspires us, but there is none so sweet a benefit as the imitation of Christ.

 

Paul calls the church of Philippi to imitate him as he imitates Christ (Philippians 3:17), explaining the insurmountable joy of a life led in complete imitation of Christ.

 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

– Philippians 3:8-11

 

We cannot not imitate. The question is, who are we imitating?

 

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