We’ve all had those moments when we see someone in a crowd and smile, wave, or approach them to talk with them . . . and then realize it wasn’t who we thought it was but someone who just looked like who we thought it was. It can be quite embarrassing.
As a longtime fan of SNL, one of the most amazing aspects of the show is how they’ve been able to find amazing impressionists throughout their tenure. From Dana Carvey doing Ross Perot and George H.W. Bush to Will Ferrell’s famed W., and countless others, the SNL has showcased some of America’s best impressions – none more famous than Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin. When an impression is that good, it’s easy to mistake the impressionist for the real person. Being a celebrity doppelganger leads to interesting interactions.
Throughout March, the Alum Creek Church has been reading through the Gospel of Matthew together and I was taken up with the notion of doppelgangers last week. As I read through Matthew last week, I was struck by the fact that Christians are called to be Christ’s doppelgangers. We are supposed to look like Jesus in our lives. I read a book a few years ago that said we are supposed to be “little Jesuses” walking around carrying on his ministry. I think I like the image of being his doppelgangers better.
Impressionists come in all shapes and sizes which is probably nowhere on display better than in Elvis impersonators. You see fat Elvises, skinny Elvises, old Elvises, and everything in between. Throw a sequin suit on with some slicked back, black hair – add some sweet lamb chops and sunglasses, and everyone knows who you are trying to be. Some, obviously, our more realistic than others.
As I read through Matthew that imagery really stuck with me. That’s what we are supposed to be. Not some cheap, tacky Elvis impersonator, but a real, authentic doppelganger who, if seen from a distance at an airport, would easily be confused for the real thing. The problem is, too many churches are putting cheap and tacky replicas on display. Too many churches mistaken the smoke and mirrors of Sunday worship services for authentic Jesus communities. The problem with that is that Matthew is completely absent of any tacky impersonation.
Jesus oozes humility. He spends his time with people no one else wants to. He disrupts the religious establishment. He gives up his power. He instructs his followers to put their weapons down. If we start doing that . . . maybe people will start treating us like they treated him. If that starts happening, then we can begin to ask ourselves whether we really want to be like him or not.