“Certainly the body isn’t one part but many… You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.” -1 Corinthians 12:14, 27
“God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7b
“Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.” -Ephesians 5:1-2a
For his birthday, my five-year-old was given a giant box of Lego bricks in every shape and size and color imaginable. Last week, he pointed at the picture of a ship on the Lego box and instructed me to build it. There were no instructions, just a photo of the ship. Did I mention there are over 1000 Lego pieces in that box?
Well, I tried. As a perfect copy of the model, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. I was a bit disappointed. And you know what? The kid didn’t care. He had a Lego ship, and that was good enough. Delighted with what I made, off he sailed, and that was that.
As people and especially as Christians, we sometimes get too caught up in trying to get it just right. How often have you said to yourself: ‘I could never do that as well as they do, so I won’t even try!”? We are paralyzed by our own shortcomings and give up before we begin. After all, you can’t fail if you never try, right?
The other version of trying to get it just right is to believe that someone else’s way of doing it is the only right way, and to tirelessly imitate them until we are just like them. That was what I was going for with the Lego ship, and, to be honest, it was impossible. I couldn’t really tell how to build the ship because all I had was one angle on the finished product. We can’t look at a person and see what’s going on inside them or what got them to where they are. Our perspective is limited, so it’s no surprise that when we try to be just like someone else, we fail.
So what are we supposed to do? If we know what we’d like to be, the kind of person we want to become, how do we get there from here?
First of all, the world does not need another one of the person you so desperately want to copy. It needs you. God made you as you are, a member of the body of Christ, so just go right ahead and stop trying to be somebody else.
Second, you can’t see what’s in someone else’s heart and mind. Trying to reproduce what you can’t see is just plain silly. God, and only God, sees each person’s heart, including yours. You are not called, as a Christian, to be just like other Christians. You’re called to be like you.
Third, and most important of all, if you must have a role model, live like Jesus. Imitate God, who loves us and all people unconditionally. Accept everyone else just as they are. Forgive anyone who hurts you. Accept and love and forgive yourself. God does, after all.
And if it’s not picture perfect, if you’re not exactly the way you had hoped you would be, if you don’t meet your own high expectations, well, you’re not a Lego ship. God is delighted in you.
God, when I am disappointed in what I have to offer, when I don’t live up to the person I hope to be, remind me that I am who you created. You forgive and love me as I am. Make me an imitator of you and no one else. Amen.