Charlie the Chimpanzee was a friendly sort of ape. And the one thing he loved the most was being with people. He just loved human company. So much so, that if you were to ask him what he wanted to be in in life, he would say that he wanted to be a human being.

Now, that meant for Charlie, not only spending as much time with people as he could, but it also meant that when they weren’t actually talking directly to him, watching people from afar. Indeed he would watch what people did, and how they behaved, and made a note of every detail of their behaviour. And so seriously did Charlie want to be a human being, that he spent all his waking hours pursuing this one goal, trying hard to get it right.

Unfortunately, for Charlie, copying humans was not necessarily a good thing to do. Because copying people’s behaviour often got him into trouble.

For example, one day he decided that he’d try out some new words that he’d heard some people use (and he really wasn’t quite sure what they meant). But they were evidently important words, because they used them all the time. Imagine his surprise then when the person he tried them on got very upset, and slapped him on the face as if he’d said something wrong.

For example too, another day when he decided he needed to borrow something. Instead of asking the person first, he just took what he needed, just like he’d seen other people do. Well, imagine Charlie’s surprise, then, when the person he’d borrowed from began to turn their whole place upside down, looking for the thing that he had borrowed. And they then called in the police to report that something had been stolen

And then there was another incident… but I think you get the idea.

Now Charlie may have been a chimpanzee, but he wasn’t silly. And he quickly realised that copying just any person’s behaviour was not a good idea. Indeed he needed to copy only good behaviour, not bad. But who was he going to copy?

Well, fortunately for Charlie, he had a good friend. The vicar of the local church was a regular visitor to Charlie. And so Charlie thought he would be the ideal person to talk to him about his problem. And the vicar was very helpful. He referred Charlie to the bible, and he opened his bible to the letter to the Hebrews. And the vicar read some words from chapter thirteen, verse 7. And they were words all about imitating the life and faith of godly people; those who had shared their faith with you. So the vicar suggested to Charlie that only people who had Jesus in their hearts should even be considered as worthy to be copied. And, perhaps, as even the most faithful can make mistakes, then maybe he should consider only following Jesus’ example. And he left him a Bible so he could read it, and more easily copy Jesus’ behaviour.

And, you know, since that day Charlie has not got into anywhere near as much trouble as he used to. And what’s more, he’s learned to appreciate just what Jesus did for human beings so many years ago.

So now if you were to ask Charlie what his goal in life is, he will now say that he still wants to be as much like a human being as he can be. But he will also say that the person on which he wants to model his life is the person of Jesus himself. And I think that is very wise too.

Now in life we humans tend to learn how to behave from a number of different sources. Indeed we learn from our parents, family members, friends, people we admire etc, etc. And some of the things we learn are good, and some of the things we learn are bad. However, what we should remember, is that we all mistakes. And if we want to learn how to behave well, we need to be able to work out who is a good role model , and who isn’t. And the best role model we can have is Jesus himself.

Now, that’s certainly the lesson that Charlie the Chimpanzee learnt. But is it a lesson that we have learnt too?

© 2015, Brian A Curtis