Monday, June 4, 2012

Imitators of God

The fifth chapter of Ephesians starts off with an interesting directive: "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children".  If you are like me, your initial response to this might be something along the line of "Huh!  How could I possibly imitate the creator of this universe and all that's in it?  I have a hard enough time managing my own life without attempting to manage a universe."  But fortunately that's not really what Paul meant, and he goes on to give us better instruction in the process of being a God imitator.

Live a life of love

The first clue in how to imitate God comes in verse 2; live a life of sacrificial Christ-like love.  If we are to imitate God, then our best example to follow is that of Jesus, who was God incarnate.  God loved me and gave himself for me.  If I am going to imitate him then I need to love those around me and be willing to give myself for them.

Sexual immorality, any kind of impurity, and greed are out.  And not only are these things to be avoided, we should not even give people a cause to suspect them in us.  They are improper for God’s holy people.  Paul goes so far as to warn us that if these things characterize our life, then we have no place in the kingdom of God.  We cannot be like God and be immoral, impure or greedy.  And note the connection Paul established between greed and idolatry.  Greed, the desire for more and more, is a form of idol worship; you are worshiping the god of materialism.

In verses 4 & 6 Paul again returns to our speech.  He has already told us that only things that are helpful to others should come out of our mouth.  And now he expands unwholesome talk (4:29) to include obscenity, foolish talking and coarse joking.  My mouth oftentimes seems to have a mind of its own, and I really need to guard against letting it run unattended.  Rather than speech that is hurtful or vulgar, focus on helpful and thanksgiving.  Paul also warns us against those who would come with deceitful and empty words.  Don’t be taken in by those would try to lead us astray (4:14).

Live as children of light

We used to live in darkness, separated from the light of Christ.  But that is our past and we should no longer live like that.  Instead we should shine the light of Christ into the darkness and expose those actions for what they really are.  Where the light shines, there is no place for the darkness.

Now we are light, children of light, and should live accordingly.  Imitate God, find out what pleases him, and do that.  If it is truly good, righteous, or true, then we can embrace it and know that it pleases God.  In any situation, we should be able to do what is right, what is good, hold to what is true.  If I am indeed a child of the light, then it will be clear to me what is right, good and true.  I should not be deceived about that by those who would draw me away from God to follow their own agenda.

Live with wisdom

While some will claim that our technological and societal advances are ushering in a new age of enlightenment and growth for humanity, Paul paints an entirely different picture; the days are evil.  Much of the so called advancements that we have made have come at the cost of leaving behind the supposedly old and outdated images of God that have tied us down for so long; a return to darkness.

Be wise and make the most of every opportunity.  Look for ways to allow the light of Christ to shine into the dark world around us.  Do not foolishly follow the ways of the world in its wisdom.  Rather know and understand the will of God and choose to follow it instead.

Be filled with the Spirit of God, and allow the Spirit to speak out through you.  Let’s sing together in praise of God, and give thanks to him, regardless what is going on around us.

How does one imitate God?  By living a life of love, by living as a child of the light, and by living with wisdom.

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