Paul's letter to the Ephesians has been the source of numerous topics of our studies. We have discussed who we are in Christ, and even the concept of the power God supplies to Christians. The first few chapters of the letter address the need for us to KNOW and then the latter part of the book challenges us to BE. For generations there have been problems in churches due to the fact we humans get things in reverse. We try to be the people of God without really knowing God. Reading the book of Ephesians in its entirety could give us a much better perspective of the intent of Paul's letter.
Perhaps you, like me, have felt the need for a closer association with God, yet we are reminded of our weakness and the sin in our lives that prevent that from happening. Often, we try to give the impression that we are spiritual enough to know God, so it automatically follows that we are being what God wants us to be.
In chapter 5 of Ephesians, Paul gives some admonition to Christians like those at Ephesus, and like you and me. He opens with a verse that we could read over quickly and not really pause to consider all its meaning.
"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" Ephesians 5:1.
Read that verse several times and let it soak in. Allow God to really teach you something from that sentence. There really is a message here that most of us need.
First, "Be imitators of God." Before we can imitate God, we have to know him. Knowing about him is a good start, but actually knowing him will help us imitate him.
"Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children." I hear people say, "I have read the Bible, know the right commands to obey, and now I'm just working my way to heaven." We still have the idea that our salvation will be based on how good we are, when in reality, God wants us to know it is based on HIS grace and goodness and his willingness to offer his son as a sacrifice for our sins. We should be happy that Paul is trying to show us here that our God loves us and we need to be living and acting like "dearly loved children."
When we reach that point, Paul encourages us to live a life of love. That's how you can be an imitator of God. You know of his love, you strive to live like a dearly loved child, and that prompts you to live a life of love. Paul likens it to the love of Christ who gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God.
The beginning point for us in imitating God is of vital importance. Imitate his love because you are a loved child of his, and live a life of love, just like Jesus. That's a big order for us to fill but God loved us enough to let us know the starting point. Yes, there are other areas of the characteristics of God we should imitate, but how wonderful it is for us when we know his love, and be an imitation of that love by loving others.