Summary: What does it mean to imitate God? And what stops us from doing that effectively?
OPEN: Lily Tomlin is a famous woman comedian. Once she said,
"I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific."
APPLY: A lot of people would like to be somebody.
The past couple of nights, little children went "Trick Or Treating" dressed up to be “somebody”. Some of those kids dressed up in funny costumes, and others put on scary outfits. But a lot of kids dressed like somebody they admire or a character they’d like to be like. There were a lot of Spidermen, Ninja Warriors, Transformers, princesses and queens. And they often choose those costumes because they’d like to be like that hero/heroine.
Now, when I was a kid, my hero was Zorro.
I’d put on a black cape, pretend I was riding a black horse and I’d swing around a fake sword. Even after I’d entered my teens, I still had that admiration for that fictitious hero . When I was in High School I discovered that a local college was offering courses in fencing (it hurts when you get whacked with those things), and after I got out of High School, I hired on at a local horse barn to lead trails so I could ride a noble steed. Granted my noble steed’s name was “Peanuts” – but he was my noble steed.
I wanted to be somebody… I wanted to imitate my hero.
I realize how silly that sounds, but to some degree many people have had heroes that they tried to imitate as a child and that hero may even have influenced how they look at life today.
Now Paul tells us that one of the greatest heroes we can have is God.
“Be imitators of God” he says.
I recently read about a child who told his mother he wanted to dress up like God for Halloween.
“Like God?” She said “how would you dress to look like Him?”
“Oh” he said “I’d put on a white robe, a wig and long beard… and I’d wear flip flops.”
ILLUS: In fact, back in 2000 I read of a man who did just that. His name was Carl J. Joseph, and the Washington Post explained that Mr. Joseph had spent 9 yrs wandering through 13 countries and 47 states. He usually walked bare footed dressed in a long robe, and his resemblance to Jesus was so striking that people often flooded into churches just to see him. (Hanna Rosin of The Washington Post 2/13/00)
So… is that what Paul meant when he said we should imitate God?
Should we all start going barefoot and wearing robes?
(pause) I don’t think so.
Imitating God has less to do with our wardrobe than with our hearts.
Besides, we already bear a resemblance to God. Back in Genesis 1:26 “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…’" We bear a strong resemblance to our Father… but sin has marred that image, so we need to relearn what once was natural for Adam and Eve.
Imitating God goes deeper than wearing a wig, beard and flip flops.
The Greek Word here in Ephesians for “imitate” is “mimetes” and it comes from the Greek family of words from which we get our English “mime” and “mimic”.
So Paul is telling us to mimic God - to imitate how God behaves, not how He dresses.
How can we imitate God?
Well, first Paul tells us we need to imitate God’s love.