“Be imitators of God 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.” – Ephesians 5:1-2 (TPT).
The imitation of Christ is our goal in 2022 and every year going forward. There should not be a gap between the Christ we proclaim verbally and the Christ we present visibly in how we live our lives.
But how? What does it look like to imitate God, the incomprehensible, glorious omnipotent God? Well, we certainly can’t imitate God totally; try as we might, we simply cannot become omniscient. What Paul is telling us is we grow as we imitate the love of God. In other words, true imitation of God looks like loving others just as Christ loved others: loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbors.
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.
Imitating Jesus all the time is impossible. It is easier to start with small incremental goals; for example five minute increments. Follow Jesus in five-minute increments. Can I obey Jesus 300 seconds in the things that I do and say? And then for another 300 seconds, and another 300. We may think we can obey Jesus for a whole day, but it is doubtful. But when we face tough situations, temptations, or interactions, what if we just ask ourselves a simple question: Could I tolerate this person who is kind of difficult to be around for 300 seconds? Could I stay calm in a traffic jam for 300 seconds? Can I invest 300 seconds every morning for quiet time? Whatever comes next in my life, I just need to obey Jesus for the next 300 seconds. And then I do it again. 300 more seconds. If 300 seconds is difficult at first, start with 60 seconds.
Of course, you aren’t going to find anything about 300 seconds with Jesus in the Bible, but you will read about the love of Jesus. Our love for Jesus grows when we do not allow external circumstances or internal thoughts and desires to distract us, such that our deepest focus and joy come from our relationship with Him. When we learn to love Jesus in this way, we will be able to let His love flow out and touch all our relationships with others.
In 2022, 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 even for a few minutes at a time.
- 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?