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Imitate God's Love (5 of 8)
INTRO: I heard about an unusual event that occurred at the passion play in the Ozarks years ago. A local man, who was playing the part of Jesus, was carrying the cross through the streets to Gethsemane when someone in the crowd began to taunt and heckle him. The man playing Jesus became so irritated that he put the cross down, went over and punched the man out. The director of the play was horrified and warned the actor that he was playing Jesus and if he could not control himself he would have to be replaced. The next night the heckler was back, but this time, with great effort, the actor restrained himself. He looked over at the heckler and snarled through gritted teeth - 'I'll see you after the resurrection!'
In Ephesians 5:1 Paul writes that we Christians are to be 'imitators of God', to be more specific, of God's love. Let's read that verse.
We've been called to imitate the love of God but all too often our unloving actions reveal that, like the actor in the passion play, we've far from mastered the role.
Today I want to reinforce in our hearts what it means to imitate God's love to the extent that we are actually living lives of love.
I. IMITATE GOD'S COMPASSIONATE LOVE 4:32
'Be kind and compassionate to one another'
A. JESUS' COMPASSION
1) Ephesians 5:1 includes the word 'therefore' which takes us back to the previous verse (4:32). God's love is a compassionate love. Compassion is the ability to put yourself in someone else's place so that you can sympathize and empathize with what they're going through.
2) One example of compassionate love is the incarnation itself. In Jesus of Nazareth, God put on human flesh. God's love is literally a compassionate love because He literally put Himself in man's place to experience what man experiences.
Heb.2:14ff 'Since the children have flesh and blood, (Jesus) too shared in their humanity...(17) For this reason He had to be ...
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