by Christopher Harbin

Imitating God
Christopher B. Harbin
Ephesians 5:1-16

Little children like role play. They enjoy pretending to do what they see adults doing. They dress like firefighters, heroes, businessmen, chefs, cowboys, and laborers. They play and imitate, and in so learn about life, themselves, and those they are trying to imitate. They act our stories they have read or heard. They imitate what they see of work around the house, washing dishes, sweeping, vacuuming, and yard work. Often their attempts seem more trouble than help, but it is part of their learning to become adults, imitating the actions of people in their lives and community. In many ways, this is the way we are to relate to God. We are to learn who God is by imitating God’s character, attitudes, and actions.

Paul had been writing about how Gentiles and Jews were both brought to the very same faith in the same God. We were all saved by the very same means, with no distinctions to speak of among ourselves. He then moved on to speak to the issues of holding the person of Jesus Christ as the model for all our living. It is into the maturity of Jesus Christ that we are to direct our lives. In this chapter, Paul takes that issue one step further. He reminds us that we are to be on a journey of imitating God, living and doing the things we see God doing. Too often, our actions fall far too short of that objective, but that is the goal set before us. We are to become even as God in Christ Jesus.

What is the character of Jesus’ actions and attitudes in the gospels? That should be the essence of our own lives. We saw the news of Fred Phelps’ death this week, bringing once again a spotlight to the actions and attitudes of Westboro Baptist Church, which he founded. We are well familiar with their take on Christianity. We are aware of how they have protested at funerals of military service members, spoken harshly against homosexuals, and overall stood for a condemnatory message directed against those who disagree ...

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