Taking on the Identity of Christ

by Karen Wingate October 18, 2023
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Ephesians 5:1 (NLT)

Several times, when I’ve needed a costume to wear to a party, I’ve written the names of fellow party-going friends on name tags and then plastered them over a black shirt. Add a black ski mask, and I become an “Identity Thief.”

It’s a fun costume but not so fun in real life. Each of us wants to be known for who we are — an individual with a customized set of fingerprints, personal passwords, a unique personality and special abilities. A package like no one else. That’s the way God created us to be: one of a kind.

Yet secretly, when I masquerade as the “Identity Thief,” each person represented on my shirt has something I’d like to have. Their ability to say just the right thing whereas my tongue so easily slips into knots. Their organizational skills whereas my home desk is a mess. Their knack for buying just the right gift whereas I grab the first thing I see, and it ends up oh so wrong.

I fail miserably when I try to redraw my life to look like other people’s. That’s because I need to be me, the way God designed me to be.

The only person God wants me to imitate is Him. That’s what our key verse says: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).

The Genesis 1 creation record says God made people in His image. But sin has marred us. While we are still made in the image of God, our quest as growing Christians is to transform back into His likeness — Christlikeness — through sanctification and our imitation of God.

Paul, the writer of the book of Ephesians, goes on to list what we should imitate about God: His way of love and truth, His holiness, goodness and righteousness (Ephesians 5:2-8).

But wait — aren’t we also called to examine and imitate the lives of mature believers? After all, 1 Corinthians 11:1 says, “And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (NLT). Isn’t Paul asking his readers to imitate him?

The key phrase in Paul’s directive is “as I imitate Christ.” Other English translations render “imitate” as “follow the example of” (NIV). We can aim to be like faithful followers of Jesus without wishing we could be them. We can watch the in-the-flesh example of other believers — how they put their faith in action, how they serve with love, and how they are able to endure through tough times because of the hope they have in Jesus — but our final guide is Jesus as represented in the Bible.

We may admire qualities someone else has and see them as superior to our own. But our best strategy is to follow the example of the only perfect human being — Jesus Christ. His life teaches us what character traits and behaviors are most important. He shows us how to center our lives around an eternal perspective and how to live out the concepts of love, holiness, purity and righteousness based on our faith and trust in God.

If Jesus is the best example of all, why would we want to become like anyone else? The exciting part is this: When we move toward becoming like Jesus and exercising the gifts He has custom-made for each of us, we find that we really are one of a kind, with a unique identity others can’t help but notice and admire.

Lord, I want to be so in love with You that my desire is to become just like You and no one else. Please help me to know You better. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


If you opened your calendar today and wondered how time flies so fast, we understand. Maybe you thought this was the year you would grow in your faith by spending more time in the Word or you would experience the breakthrough you were hoping for. It’s not too late to spend time focusing on Jesus, and we’ve picked the perfect Online Bible Study that will fit into your schedule … Pointing to the Promise: An Advent Study, starting November 6. Sign up now!



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1 Thessalonians 1:6, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (NIV).

Take a look at 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8 today. How have other believers inspired you to live a life that imitates Jesus, especially during some of life’s tougher moments? Tell us about it in the comments.

© 2023 by Karen Wingate. All rights reserved.

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