I’ve thought over the years as to who people look up to, who they desire to model themselves after. Many, if not all of us, remember the “Be Like Mike” slogan, which was a Gatorade commercial that featured American professional basketball player Michael Jordan that originally aired in 1992. What was the point of such a commercial with that slogan “Be Like Mike”? Well, Michael Jordan is known for his ability to dunk a basketball, very talented as noted by his standings, but of course it is paired with selling what Mike likes… Gatorade, his type of shoes, type of clothing, etc. Now just coming back at the end of 2017, a “Be Like Mike” Collection.
I’ve heard many who say that they want to be like certain people when they grow up, to emulate them in the talents that they possess, but I’ve never really heard anyone say, “I want to be like God” or “I want to be like Christ” to emulate them. There’s a wonderful collection of attributes for us to be clothed with, to emulate of God and Christ, but how many desire to emulate, imitate God and Christ in their lives?
It is one thing to go and spend some money to buy products that will match someone’s apparel or drink Gatorade that someone also likes, but that’s not challenging. What’s challenging is what we find here in Ephesians 5. The very challenge to be imitators of God. This is not an apparel issue on the outside, but rather on the inside.
When I think of imitating another, my mind thinks of my children who I find having picked up on my quirks, and I find them doing the same as I have done. Children certainly imitate their parents a lot! I asked Ayden awhile back who he wants to be like, and he said that he wanted to be like me! I asked his reason why he wants to be like me, and his answer was because I hold God as more important than anything and that I do good things for others. It feels very good to know that you are being looked up to, not just in relation to height, but in your daily walk.
It is interesting that in verse 1 of Ephesians 5 that Paul said to be imitators of God as dear children. He didn’t say to “look like” as if it’s just a part we play, but Paul said, “BE LIKE”. That requires diligent effort on our part to BE LIKE, TO EMULATE, TO IMITATE the Lord. As Paul will go on to say, it’s not just talk, it’s about a WALK! As God’s dear children, we should want to be like Him! To BE like HIm, we must understand what that walk means. So, when we think of how we are to be IMITATORS OF GOD as HIS DEAR CHILDREN, what does that love look like? Paul says in verse 2 of our text that such involves “walking in love”. When I say “love”, this is not just a love that has been watered down by our society and only described as just a feeling that one gets. This is a LOVE demonstrated by Christ who loved us… a self-sacrificial love as stated in the verse, having “given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Do we really grasp what the apostle Paul is saying here? The love of God as described in John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8. Those verses show us that such LOVE was a choice. He chose to love us even when the circumstances were NOT good, even while we were yet sinners. That’s what love does. Love gives and provides, not limited only to those who love us in return, but also for those who despise us, who hate us, yes, even our enemies (cf. Matt. 5:43-48). You love, even your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you; WHY?!! So you may be like your Heavenly Father who expresses and demonstrates His love without discrimination as noted by Jesus saying, He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, sending rain on the just and on the unjust. The emphasis must be shown in the walking in love! Jesus didn’t just have an ultimate one-time demonstration of His love by dying on the cross for the sins of all mankind, but as He walked on this earth, He consistently and persistently expressed and demonstrated His love to those who didn’t care for Him, who despised Him, who hated Him; He served those people just as He did for those who loved and cared for Him! Jesus was showing all who observed Him, He was truly the Son of God; He was being like His Father.
When you think about God and are asked to describe God maybe even with one word, most if not all will say “love”. My friends, God is love. (cf.1 John 4:7-11) If we want to be pleasing to God, then we can’t just look to someone else’s view of what love is or what love means to them, we have to look to God and imitate Him, His Son’s love. The Lord has set the standard and will not lower the bar to accommodate us, rather we are to strive to love as He loves, walk as Christ walked! One will see the difference in their lives. Consider the apostle Paul who in his earlier years as Saul of Tarsus did NOT have the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. He was ravaging the church, consenting to the death of Christians. When he came to face to face with the love of God, with arms extended full of grace and mercy, Saul became a new man, having put on the body of Christ in baptism. He would go on to imitate the Lord in the way he talked and walked in love towards God and others and yes, even those who hated him and mistreated him. Paul was simply following what Jesus said in Matt. 22:37,38. He would show through his daily walk of one who was a true and faithful disciple of Christ by expressing and demonstrating his love for one another. (John 13:35) Paul said to the Corinthian brethren in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, even as I also imitate Christ.” How many of us can say the same exact thing? How many of us display this day in and day out? Paul could say this to the Corinthian brethren and the Ephesian brethren because Paul was truly IMITATING GOD and CHRIST, walking in love! There’s much to say from the text of Ephesians 5, but I just wanted to stimulate our minds on this high standard, this great expectation that we see from these verses we have considered.
It made my heart smile to know that my son wants to be like me for the reasons he gave. Because in his reasons, yes, he sees me as his father, who strives to put God first above everything else, and strives to do for others in service. I’m far from perfect, but that which Ayden sees is exactly what I want him to see. It’s not about me, it’s about a love that I have for God, for others and for him to see that is Christ living within me (Gal. 2:20). May we recognize the impact that we have on our children, on our families, on our neighbors, on others that we come in contact with. This kind of life that God calls us to, is NOT one that just happens overnight. It is a life we purpose, a love that we purposefully choose to give freely every single day; to live as Christ lived, to walk as Christ walked.
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂