There is a phenomenon…alive and well on Planet Earth!
We want to emulate someone, or something. We buy pets that look like us, or we change our appearance to look like them (see picture). We find it cute when our children are dressed like us (or weird when they look too adult in clothes that even the parents should not be wearing). Even when we see new born babies we look closely at their features to see who they look most like – mom, dad, or that weird relative from the wrong side of the family!
I remember a time, about 7 years old, I wanted my hair to look like Timmy’s hair from the Lassie show. This would have been about 1962 and school photo’s shows how I tried to look like him. The hair, and even the stripped shirt. I even wanted a dog like Lassie to call my own. In my own mind I was his look alike and could have been a “stunt double” in today’s world! Remember, that was all in my own mind.
But then, as is normal, change made me modify my look again. I cannot tell you who I became next (Roy Rogers?, I sure enjoyed my double holster six shooters…), but this is normal for most people. We emulate someone until our situation changes and then we drop that look and begin to look like someone else! This is normal.
Advertisers look at what interest people and then market something that “everyone has to have.” Other manufactures and creators jump on the wagon and the duplicates and fakes show up. Eventually, the newness wears off and the marketers begin to look for the next trendy thing to tap into. This is normal.
I know a number of people who are the same way about everything they touch in their lives. What becomes important to them causes them to look at their friend and acquaintances with a new view. Can they influence someone to change who they are to look just like themselves? They flash a new style, a new language, a new and improved culture… Mostly they show a new look and wonder who they can influence.
Try this experiment: Sitting in a gathering place of friends or strangers, do a series of yawns and see how many people are influenced by your action. Before long, most in the group will follow your example. See, you influenced a yawn out of them!
Someone told me, a long time ago, to keep my old clothes (especially ties) – they will come back into fashion. In the early 70’s, fancy blue jean jackets were catching on and manufactures starting making some of the most outlandish style of jackets. Some even looked like tuxedo jackets. I’ve kept this jacket now for around 40 years. It’s tattered, yet someone close to me enjoyed it during their high school years – and in fact probably has it hanging in their closet right now…
As fads come and go it is inevitable that someone decides to hang out in a particular style for a long time. That’s why we see older people who still look like hippies, even though that tie died, bell bottom, scruffy look phased out a generation ago.
Essentially, we “are” who we hang out with. We emulate them – our speech patterns pick up their slang, our appearance mimics, and eventually their values snake their way into our own – often drowning out what we were previously and making us to look just like them. Parents do this with their children, cultures do it with their tribe, religions do it with their followers. Lost to the world then is the real identity of who the real person is.
There was a game show from the 50’s called, “To Tell The Truth.”
Four celebrity panelists questioned three contestants, only one of which had the unique experience and could tell the truth. The panelists were told some significant fact about the contestants and were allowed to ask questions trying to get dig out additional facts to support the opening description. They were trying to identify the real person – the others were just fakes. At the end, the statement would be spoken, “Will the real ________ please stand up.” The person with the unique experience would stand, everyone would applaud, and we would be amazed at the results.
What was amazing was how well the fakes could answer questions to fool the panelists.
They knew just enough facts to confuse the identity, but they did not have the foundation of experience to become what the real person was.
Think about this: We are who we hang out with – meaning we can often duplicate the outward and inward of the person we are emulating, but we are seldom ever as close to being the original, as the original itself. We are copies. And we are not even close to the original in many areas. Why? We duplicate the things we see that we want to become and generally discard the rest.
As Christians we are called to be “Christ Like” but then we take on the portion of Christ that we want to emulate and discard the remainder.
- Some want to represent the “love” of Christ but do not want to tear up the temple and drive out the money changers.
- Some want to teach like Christ, but are incapable of confronting poor logic or choices presented by the hearers and potential followers.
- Some want to minister like Christ, but are fearful of “taking up His Cross” and following Him.
- Some want to rule with Him some day, but are unable to command their own lives today.
I am sure this list can be almost endless, but this is the problem of most Christians today. “We are who we hang out with.” We go to church once or twice a week, and commit 1-3 hours in the process, and then live out our lives the way we want, how we want, when we want – and hang the consequences.
Or, the obverse is just as true – we hang out with the ones we like the best and become like “their” version of Christianity. With over 30,000 Christian denominations in existence, you can choose your own flavor. Baskin and Robbins gives you 30+ flavors of ice cream, however, if you are like me that’s not enough choices so let’s just make up our own!
Jesus asks Philip, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet thou hast not known me?” (John 14:9) He goes on to connect Himself to God in explanation – yet even His closest followers could not recognize Him for who He was – they were not that closely duplicated…
In Acts 4, Peter and John were questioned of their teachings and actions just days after the foundation of the Church in Acts 2. Even though they were perceived to be “ignorant and unlearned” the panelists took special note of them because “…they had been with Jesus…”. It seems that enough of Jesus had rubbed off on them that His influence, language and manners could be seen through their visage.
God speaks toward the end of the Old Testament, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal 3:6). Why do we think we can change so easily and quickly to the flavor of the month? Christian fads come and go, just like the fads of this world. But we have a foundation that is sure (2 Tim 2:9), and a God that does not change (Heb 13:6). Our methods may change in order to reach this world, but our God never changes.
We are who we hang out with…
Does enough of Jesus touch you that people can see you belong to Him? Who do you hang out with?