I can't help but remember the first time someone copied me in school. It wasn't on a test or assignment, but rather it was a nature shadow box for science class in the third grade. I have always been the one to think outside the box (get it? shadow box?) and this third grade project was no exception.
Instead of using just paper, glitter and a few real twigs and leaves, I went a little crazy with this assignment. I remember making a "real fake tree" and even putting a pretend squirrel in it. After I shared my shadow box with the class, I noticed when a classmate presented his the next day, there was a "real fake tree..." and a squirrel.
I was so upset that my genius, creative idea had been jacked by some booger-laden third grader. (I know, I know... I was a booger-laden third grader too. But you get my point.) I went home upset and cried to my mom. She tried to explain to me that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Yeah, whatever. I would have said "That's crap, Mom" but I know that would have found me hanging over the bathroom sink trying to get the taste of dial soap out of my mouth.
We live in a society where fads and trends can dictate our lives if we allow it. With the new year here, everybody and their brother has set resolutions. Probably the most popular one? Lose weight. Other areas find us following the crowd, buying the expensive name-brand jeans or teasing the kid with glasses at school because that's what the cool kids do.
But we were born original. So let's not die a copy.
There is nothing wrong with following trends or learning new things to better yourself. It is when those fads start to take priority or blur your vision and we cease to think with our own, unique and wonderfully made-by-God brain when things start to go south.
So how can we love God more deeply in 2012 even if it isn't the most popular choice? Let's be like Jesus. He didn't follow the crowd. The crowd followed Him. He was an original and certainly didn't die a copy anyone.
We can share his message and provide an avenue for others to follow us in His steps. If we share His message, then others will "copy" us-- which, unlike my third-grade mind decided, CAN BE a very good thing.
Think outside the box (literally and figuratively) on ways that you can share the love of God with others. Open a door, bake cookies for a neighbor, pay for a stranger's lunch, pray... If you are original by being bold in your faith, others will surely follow. That isn't the highest form of flattery for us, but rather one of the highest forms of loving and glorifying God.
Build your "real-fake" tree OUT of your box. Be original. Let others follow YOU.
Oh. And don't forget to add the squirrel.
Embracing bold faith,
"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Mark 8:34
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