By Katie Reid, Vice President of Hillsdale College for Life
One of the many blessings of attending a Christian college is the chance to discuss Christ in every aspect of our studies. One of my literature classes recently kicked off the semester by reading Cervantes’ Don Quixote, which follows a man whose perception of the world has been so heavily altered by his love of chivalric, romantic literature that he decides to become a knight and follow the chivalric code… in 17th century Spain. His adventures bring nothing but confusion and chaos to neighboring villages, but Quixote’s devotion to chivalry also brings an appreciation of these ideals to those around him.
In our class discussions, my professor stressed how imitating that which we find good and beautiful is an essential trait of humanity. We can find many examples of this in our own lives. I’ve known my college friends for two years now, and the influence we’ve had on each other is clear in our language, fashion, and even the types of meals we cook! These are examples of beneficial imitation. However, I’m sure each of us could also think of harmful habits we’ve picked up from our friends, families, and mentors. Don Quixote serves as a cautionary tale about the effects of harmful imitation. So how can we know who we should or shouldn’t imitate?
The Scriptures make it clear–we are called to imitate Christ in every aspect of our lives. As Paul charges us in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us.” He is our paragon of virtue and goodness, the ultimate example of sacrificial love and humility. We are to follow His commands and example above everything on earth.
And when we do, when we sacrificially serve those around us, we uphold lives. We share the message that life is important, inherently valuable even, because every life is created and redeemed by God Himself. I don’t mean to say that we should never be influenced or inspired by those around us, only that we should be careful that our imitations never contradict the example of Christ. In a world obsessed with individuality, self-service, and self-promotion, we should strive to be imitators of Christ for LIFE.