“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.
The Passion Translation expresses those same verses this way: “Follow God and imitate all he does in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration—a sweet healing fragrance in heaven and earth.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 TPT)
Paul is telling us to be imitators of God. In other words to “be godlike.” The goal of Christianity, after all, is to produce people who are godlike in an ungodly world. But that is a pretty tall order. It is such a tall order that it towers over us and we can easily dismiss it as being impossible. It is an impossible challenge to be like God. However, Scripture commands it. Jesus says, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Peter says, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). God calls us to be just like Himself.
This is certainly worthwhile, but a seemingly impossible goal for 2020 and the next ten years. But how do I do that exactly? The task won’t be as daunting if we break it down into chunks. Let’s start with love.
“Live a life filled with love…” Paul is asking us to imitate God’s forgiving love into action in our lives. And then, to strengthen His instruction, Paul pointed us to the individual who can be an example of what walking in love looks like for us: Christ Jesus. A life that is like the love of God, will be a life of love. Imitating the love of Christ means we don’t love others part of the time, or as an exception to the rule or as a religious duty on Sundays. We are to love our neighbors, whether they live in our home, sit in the next cubicle or live miles away. We are not to love others once in a while, or as an exception to the rule, or as some kind of special religious duty. Rather, love is to be our way of life, our daily pattern of behavior. Imitation means loving as God loves.
In the new year and new decade, becoming an imitator starts with asking God to help me discover more of what that means, with a hunger to know more of the purpose for which I have been made and asking how I can grow more fully into God’s image. When I love Him, I will be like Him. When I am like Him, I will love like He loves and be a reflection of Him to those around me.
- How can we imitate God? What aspects of God should we imitate? Why?
- How can we walk in love? What standard should we try to reach?