They say that “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” In Ephesians 5:1 Paul encourages his readers to “be imitators of God.”
In our study of the first 3 chapters of Ephesians over the last few weeks we have covered the first half of the book. Paul tells us that by God’s power, strength and might Jesus was raised from the dead and seated at God’s right hand (Eph. 1:18-21). More than that, God also made us “alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6, NASB).
Simply stated, Paul is telling us “Sit down and listen while I tell you what God has done for you!” Chapters 1 through 3 are an incredible review of God’s divine plan from before the beginning of time. Center stage: Christ and the church (Eph. 3:20-21).
Sitting down and resting in what God has done for us in Christ is so important!
Currently we are in the midst of chapters 4 and 5 of Ephesians. Here Paul places a great emphasis upon how we walk all day, every day. In fact, Paul literally uses a word we literally translated as “walk” to describe our lives once we have been seated in God’s throne room. He contrasts between the way we once walked, in the futility of our minds (Eph. 4:17), and the new way we walk, renewed in the spirit of our minds (Eph. 4:23-24). Likewise, on Sunday mornings, we will spend time on more practical application.
It is in this context that Paul encourages us all to be ‘imitators of God.’ This truly is the sincerest form of flattery plus a few other things like honor, glory and praise. In his book, Just Like Jesus (1998) Max Lucado gives a great illustration of what this looks like. He asks a simple question: “What if, for twenty-four hours, Jesus wakes up in your bed, walks in your shoes, lives in your house, assumes your schedule?” Essentially, He lives your life with His heart. Would anyone notice a change?
This intriguing question is a great focus point for personal meditation, confession, and repentance. But, more than that, it is a great tool for contemplating the changes that need to occur in our lives. That’s one reason I love the subtitle of Lucado’s book: “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be Just Like Jesus.”
Ephesians 1-3 keep us from falling into despair when we contemplate fulfilling the challenges Paul places before us in chapters 4-6. Learning to imitate God is an overwhelming task that is greater than we are.
Of course, God knew that.
This is why He sent His Son, “while we were yet sinners.”
Lord willing, by December, we will be concluding our study in Ephesians. We will be talking about how God’s actions (ch. 1-3) have changed believer’s daily lives (chapters 4-6:9). These people are now ready to make a stand and pray!