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8 Min Read

I Wanna Be Like You!

Published on

March 11, 2024

I was lucky to be born around the time when full-length animated feature films (big grammar for “Cartoons” 🤭) had become mainstream, and I was privileged to watch a couple of classic Disney cartoons — not the fluff pieces and remakes we tend to have today that are fast becoming a hotbed for “agenda”. One such movie was The Jungle Book.

The Jungle Book follows the story of a young boy called Mowgli who, due to rather unfortunate circumstances, is raised by wolves while his life is threatened by Shere Khan — a man-eating tiger (for good reasons if you ask me, but ask me on another day 😉). An interesting character in this story is King Louie, a giant orangutan and King of the Bandar-log (monkeys). King Louie kidnaps Mowgli and holds him hostage until Mowgli reveals how to make man’s “Red Flower” — aka fire.

King Louie’s primary reason for this was because he observed man and thought that with this red flower, he could become like man and rule the jungle. He had reached the pinnacle of his station as a monkey but desperately wanted to be a man; he wanted to be like you, walk like you, talk like you. It went with a catchy tune, which you can catch here.

Of course, this train of thought ends in tears.

This story reminds me of some events recorded in the Bible, stories around seemingly harmless desires that were severely punished, and has me wondering whether the punishment fits the crime.

The Fall of Lucifer, The Fall of Man (Genesis 3)

The Fall of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)

The Fall of the Angels who didn’t keep their domain (Jude 1:6–7)

Just like King Louie, the main driver of their actions — and this is assumed for the angels who left their domain — was that they wanted to be like someone else — a harmless thought that leads to actions with grave consequences. These stories serve as a cautionary tale for allowing comparisons to go unchecked in our hearts, as comparisons can be powerful motivators that generate warped perspectives and become a cesspool for hypocrisy.

These stories also begged questions, some above my paygrade for now, and two I can attempt to answer.

First Question: Is the desire to be like someone or have the attributes of someone fundamentally wrong?

Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

The short answer is no — and my defense is with two points. The first point is the “Elisha and Elijah” example, where Elisha’s desire to have a double portion of Elijah’s spirit was granted by God. If this desire was innately bad, then it should not have been granted.

Of course, it could also be because the desire was to be twice his spirit and not the same as this aligns with God’s disposition towards multiplication and fruitfulness — if in doubt, see what happened to the man who brought back the talent the same way it was given (Matthew 25).

The second point is that God, in making man, desired to make man like Himself. Man’s desire to be like God could have been a function of the blueprint in man’s design, and because the making of man by Genesis 3 was incomplete, that desire became an itch he could not immediately scratch until the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was presented as the quick fix.

I know, I know, saying the making of man was not “complete” is like saying God did half-work and is beginning to sound like heresy, but let’s examine scripture and see three points.

1. In Genesis 1:26, God dimensions the making of man into two attributes — in our image and in our likeness. By Genesis 1:27 the bible records that God made man in the first dimension; i.e. in His image, but was silent about the likeness of man.

2. After the creation of each day’s work, God looked over the work and said “It was good” — specifically referring to what was made that day and inferring its completion. However, on the sixth day, God doesn’t look at just man, but at everything He had created before pronouncing that it was very good. This is perhaps why the next time God looks specifically at man, having put man in the garden of Eden, He says it is “not good” for him to be alone.

3. After the fall of man, in Genesis 3:22, God says “Behold, the man has become like one of us…”, meaning before this time, man was not complete in the “likeness of God”.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

One of the reasons for this is that likeness can not be micro-waved, pressure-cooked, or shortcutted into — otherwise, once we became Christians we ought to have been transformed instantly into Him, with an instant change in desires, and longings.

Like-ness is built through process.

I believe this is one of the reasons why God came in the cool of the evenings to fellowship with man, that through the fellowship man becomes like God — it was a process! However, the devil provided a shortcut to that process, which brings us to the second question.

Second Question: Where’s the place of positive influences and role models? Do these stories imply that having role models, people who inspired you to the point where you desired to “be like” them, having some of their attributes is wrong?

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

The quick answer is it’s not wrong, the long answer (as is with most things) is it depends. We would all agree (and if you disagree, then egungun be careful) that if someone showed up at your doorstep in your clothes, with a voice modulator to sound exactly like you and a face surgically altered to look like yours, your first cause of action (of course after the initial panic 😂) would be to check the fellow into the nearest mental hospital.

The person may genuinely want to be like you, but has taken a terrible approach to achieving it — and the irony is, even with that, the person still fails because this alteration at its best, is surface level i.e. hypocrisy and deception.

Like-ness is a question of nature, it can’t be pressure-cooked.

This is why no matter how much laying of hands is done, the fruit of the Spirit will never just fall on you, it will grow in you. The point of role models is to provide an example, a template that we can follow in our unique and individual expressions to obtain similar results.

The follow-up question then becomes, isn’t this what Ananias and Saphira did? Well, they attempted a twisted/shortcut version of the example of Barnabas — it was hypocritical!

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Which is what certain alterations to the body (be it “transformational” makeup, plastic surgeries, or foolish attempts at gender change) can be likened to. And while they, like other desires to be like something or someone, may stem from a genuine place, they can often lead down dark paths.

Comparisons cause one to look away from the good things in life and focus instead on what he/she does not have.

It changes the way one looks at the things they have and minimizes them, considering them too little, or insignificant, less than. It is one of the silent but notorious thieves of joy, true joy, not “I’m happy but,…”.

One of the ways to know if this has gone too far is to check your levels of gratitude towards seemingly small events, or the “little” blessings one has — and the funny thing is, therein lies the answer to your elevation.

God isn’t a magician. In elevating your status, He always, without fail, starts with what’s in your hand, something you already have, something within your reach.

From the story of Moses and his Staff, the five loaves and two fishes feeding five thousand, the flour not running out in the time of famine, the oil not running out until the last container was filled, the healing of the waters of Marah, the way up starts from looking within.

A role model or influencer who causes you to focus more on what you don’t have rather than on how to put the “little” you have to work is one you should put in the bin on your way out of this article. (PS: This may be more your fault than the role model’s but that’s a conversation for another day. The bottom line is while you have this perspective, that role model is no good for you).

Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

As you go out this week into a world full of amazing humans, doing amazing things and having great accomplishments, as you scroll through social feeds primarily containing the top percentile of events (cause that’s why they call them “highlights”) and you’re inspired to maguire, or caught in the wish-washy web of “I wish I was like”stop and smell the roses.

You’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and there will never be another you. The seeds of greatness are in your hands, look within with gratitude, you have everything — perhaps more that you need to get going, it only requires that you stop focusing on what’s outside, and start looking at what’s inside.

Exodus 4:2a: And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? He said ‘a rod’. — and if you’re familiar with this story, you’d know that this was no ordinary rod.

Philemon 1:6: That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Have a Great Week.

Itoro Nehemiah

IG/Twitter: @_it0r0

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