The Christian life – discipleship – is more about imitation than about information.
What does it look like to live like Jesus? We look for models in the faith to give us inspiration and, more, to give us practical examples.
St Paul invites us, “Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. (Philipians 3:17)” But, perhaps St. Paul seems a little distant from us to connect with. Maybe his example to us isn’t concrete enough.
How about Fred Rogers? Thank you to Mangesh Hattikudur and Mental Floss for this piece on Mr. Rogers. From it:Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he’d often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn’t concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others. Amazingly, it wasn’t just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec’s house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver’s home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life—the house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.
An encounter with Fred Rogers was a transformative event.
I can’t help look at Fred Rogers’s life and say, “I want what he’s got.” I bet you can’t either. That’s discipleship.