(image obtained from static.tvtropes.org)
The Mission: Impossible film series follows the adventures of Ethan Hunt, an operative of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF), a secret espionage agency. Ethan, portrayed by Tom Cruise, takes on high-stakes missions to thwart various global threats. Throughout the series, he faces intense action, sophisticated gadgets, and unexpected twists. Each film presents a new mission, often involving a complex plot and dangerous adversaries.
Take a look at this compilation of various scenes from the series.
Masks are often used strategically within the plot. Whether it’s for infiltration, deception, or misdirection, the incorporation of masks adds a tactical element to the characters’ missions. But when this strategy is used, it’s not just about the masks. The effectiveness of the impersonation also depends on expertly mimicking vocal sound, speech pattern, gait and mannerisms.
Speaking of impersonation and mimicking, there are no better experts at those skills than children. You have to be so careful what you do and say around them. Those little sponges soak up everything. I’m very playful when it comes to my wife and in one of my past playtime moments, I chased my wife through the house and when I caught her, I slapped her on the butt, lovingly of course. Moments later when that particular playtime was over, or at least so I thought, I felt a slap on my butt. “So, you wanna play huh?” That was my response as I turned around only to be shocked that the hand that slapped me was connected to my then 3-year-old daughter’s body, and not my wife as I initially thought! All I could exclaim was “oh my gosh!”, which truthfully is the clean version of what I actually said. I could see it now…me getting a call from her Wee Care school’s director. “Mr. J, I need to meet with you immediately. Your daughter has been chasing all her classmates and slapping them on the butts. She says she saw her daddy do it.” My wife saw the entire episode and you know she said something. “See, I told you, she imitates everything you do.”
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. - Ephesians 5: 1-2 (New Living Translation)
Ephesians 5:1 is a concise yet powerful exhortation. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do. Paul, the writer of Ephesians, strongly urges followers with the command “be imitators,” emphasizing the need to emulate God’s actions. It’s one of the very few instances, if not the sole instance in the Bible where the term imitate is used in relation to Christians and God. This involves striving to do as God does, not just copying behavior, but making a sincere effort to reflect God’s qualities, such as love, kindness, and holiness. This is crucial when it comes to Christian behavior. The essence of all duty is to mirror God, and the closer we get to this, the closer we come to perfection.
The phrase “as dear children” underscores the relational aspect of this imitation. It’s no wonder He asks of us to be like children, because children learn so much merely by observing and imitating, particularly those they love and trust. Paul clarifies the mindset that should drive Christians to obey. Those who believe in Christ experience a familial bond with God, just like a parent-child relationship. This implies that the motivation for imitating God stems from a sense of love, gratitude, and intimacy with Him. Our love for God and trust in God should be displayed in getting to know God so that we can echo His speech and behave the way He behaves.
But how do we imitate God in a real way? The key is found in the first part of Ephesians 5:2. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. Living a life filled with love is a continuous and intentional journey. The standard for this love is set by Jesus Himself. He’s the only one capable of conducting a masterclass in this area. When we look at how He lived, we see that God is asking His children not to imitate His power and sovereignty (like that’s possible anyway), but rather His love and faithfulness. Jesus loved. Jesus cared. Jesus gave. Jesus forgave. Jesus praised. Jesus prayed. Jesus sacrificed. That’s what we are called to imitate, and as we do so, we also represent Him, especially to those who have excluded Him from their lives.
As I reflect on the episode with my then 3-year-old, I recall thinking that I needed to pray that she quickly learned how to separate daddy’s good qualities from the bad ones and choose to emulate the good ones only. When it comes down to it, imitating God is really a matter of asking ourselves that familiar question, “what would Jesus do?”