“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (Paul, 1 Corinthians 11:1)
I looked up the word “imitation” in the Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. There are several Old Testament texts listed as negative examples. However, it only lists one negative example in the New Testament: Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 develops the concept of “masquerade” as false imitation or faux imitation. There, false apostles are masquerading as real apostles in the same way Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his servants masquerade as well. Finally, Jesus, in Mark 7:7, quotes Isaiah condemning hypocrites as those who honor God with their lips, but their hearts are far from him.
The Bible is candidly clear: we will be either imitators or masqueraders. The question is, what/who will we imitate? The Eerdmans article states that discipleship and imitation are inseparable. Christians are called on to follow Jesus. In following Jesus, they are to pattern their lives, values, beliefs and behaviors after their Master. To masquerade, then, would be to outwardly appear to imitate Jesus, but not inwardly. Christian imitation of Jesus is more than outward conformity to certain patterns. It is a whole-person following of Jesus.