Tony Campolo tells the story of a drunk who was miraculously converted at a Bowery mission in New York. Like all Campolo stories, it has a jokey punch line that betrays a far more serious and convicting point.
The drunk, Joe, was known throughout the Bowery as the worst kind of wino, a hopeless derelict of a man, living on borrowed time. But following his conversion, everything changed. Joe became the most caring person that anyone associated with the mission had ever known. He spent his days and nights hanging out at the hall, not balking at even the lowliest job. He mopped up vomit and urine and cleaned up drunks whatever their condition. He considered nothing too demeaning for him.
One evening, when the director of the mission was delivering his evening evangelistic message to the usual crowd of still and sullen men, their heads hung in penitence and exhaustion, there was one man who looked up, came down the aisle to the altar, and knelt to pray, crying out for God to help him to change. The repentant drunk kept shouting, "Oh God, make me like Joe! Make me like Joe! Make me like Joe!" The director of the mission leaned over and said to the man, "Son, I think it would be better if you prayed, 'Make me like Jesus!'" The man looked up at the director with a quizzical expression on his face and asked, "Is he like Joe?"
The New Testament writers likewise call people to emulate their example, knowing that they had committed their lives to Jesus and that he indeed "lived in them." ...Paul was never coy about calling people to follow his example. This might seem like arrogance to us, but, like the ex-drunk in Campolo's story, he was so given over to the example of Christ that he had become a living embodiment of Jesus. It was Jesus he was pointing to, but it is Jesus through the medium of his own life. He understood Jesus lived in him and he in Christ. It is out of this conviction that he could say "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1); "Join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us" (Phil. 3:17); and "For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you..." (2 Thess. 3:7).
As the authors conclude, "the found are to replicate the founder to outsiders and to each other."