Imitators of God
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a calling on our lives to be imitators of God. What is the Apostle Paul trying to tell his readers when he tells them to imitate God? Is he suggesting that we should be creative because God is creator? Are we being told we have the power to punish sin because God punishes sin? This is why context is so important when we read and study our Bibles. Actually, the chapter break we come up against here doesn’t help us out because it makes it seem like this is a new thought, but really, it goes back to verse 32 of chapter four. There we read that we are to forgive as God has forgiven us in Christ. So what we read in these first two verses of Ephesians 5 extends the idea that we are to forgive one another because God has first forgiven us.
While we should imitate God in all areas of life, what Paul is specifically talking about here is that we are to imitate God in forgiving others. We are to love one another and forgive as we have been forgiven. Just like children walk behind their father in the snow and stretch to put their feet in the steps of their father, we follow God and do what he does when we forgive one another. Paul tells us that this is what we do as dearly loved children of God. We are learning from our heavenly Father how we should walk and live and love in this world. This is important for us because it is not an abstract love. That is always so important for us to remember. This isn’t warm fuzzy feelings or emotions. It is to be like the love that God has shown to us.
When we talk about the love of God we talk about it in real, significant terms because we don’t speculate on the love of God for his people. It is a sure and certain fact. Why? Because, as we read here, Jesus gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. That is the truth of the gospel. The love of God is tangible because Jesus did something real and tangible for us in real time and space history.
When you are struggling and you wonder if God can love you, there is a way to know that his love doesn’t fail. He gave himself as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. We look to this love not only to know that we are to love one another, but we also look to this gift from God to know how we are to love one another. This love we talk about isn’t that we have good feelings for the person down the pew from us or for our neighbor. We are to have a sacrificial love for each other. That means we might have to forgive someone, even though it is very hard to do. It means that we care for others, even when it isn’t easy. It’s visiting someone who is sick even when it is uncomfortable. Loving one another isn’t easy. It is sacrificial and we look to the cross and the love that God has shown for us in Christ to understand not only how to do it, but why we should do it. Christians are a people who united because of a sacrificial love, and that is the love that we are called to have for one another.
So may the people of God care for one another with a sacrificial love just as the God the Son has sacrificially given of himself to save us and declare us righteous in his sight.
Pastor Mark Groen