Summary: We can be like Jesus if we live in close fellowship with Him. Here are some areas that will help us be more like Jesus.
Intro: One awesome thing about living your life for God is that He never asks you to do anything that you could not do with His help. He will definitely ask you to do things you could never do on your own, but we need to remember that the same one who calls us to greatness is the same one who gives us power to do great things.
-In our text today Paul encourages believers to be imitators of God. How in the world would a person go about imitating God? I think about how big and how powerful God is, how He created everything from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest known star that is over a million times larger than earth. How could I possibly imitate someone that vast and powerful?
-Well, the answer is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus came to show us the Father. The Bible says Jesus is the exact representation of God – the express image of the Father. Hebrews 1:3 “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Jesus became flesh (human) and came into this world to show us what God is like. He came to help people learn how to live and made it possible to connect our lives with His. He lived a blameless life, healed people, delivered them from dark demons and other bondages, and reached out to people who had been told that they had no value. Jesus spoke life into people around Him and they found the reason for which they had been created.
-This same Jesus (whom we can read about in the 1st 4 books of the NT), this same Jesus is God the Son whom Paul says we are to imitate. We can imitate greatness by doing what Jesus would do. And the only way we can know what Jesus would do is by reading about His life and getting to know Him relationally. It is not an impersonal imitation, where we just admire Jesus and try to be like Him without knowing Him. It is a joining of our life with His.
-So, with this in mind, we are called to imitate greatness in the person of Jesus. And here is the greater implication that I want us to get a hold of today: We can be like Jesus if we live in close fellowship with Him.
-TS: Let’s look at some areas of life that will help us be more like Jesus.
I. Live a Life of Love (1-2)
1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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.
-Since we are dearly loved by our Father in heaven, we can pass that love on to the people in our lives. We are to imitate God by loving people the way He loves them. Some translations say, “Walk in love.” Actually the Greek word is peripateo which literally means to walk around. As we walk around on this little ball called Earth, we are to love people the way Christ loved us, taking our place as a substitute sacrifice. He offered Himself in our place so that we could have peace with God and live with Him forever. It is this sacrificial love that we are to continually give to those around us. Most of us are okay with convenient love. We love others when it is convenient and appears to be productive to do so. But how about loving sacrificially when we are met with anger and rejection? How about loving someone who does not seem to be worthy of our love? What about someone who makes a big mess of their lives because of the wrong choices they’ve made? Are we supposed to love them? Well, the answer is this: only if Jesus loves them.
-At what point does God stop loving a person? I don’t find any limits for His love. Is there a point of fallenness at which God’s intense love turns into hatred or indifference? I don’t believe so. Some so-called Christians have taken it upon themselves to preach the message that God hates gay people (only they don’t put it so nicely). I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish through their efforts, but they are not accurately representing the God of the Bible. The sin of homosexuality is offensive, but so are the sins of slander, gossip, selfishness, pride, stinginess, jealousy, lust, and so on. Because we are loved by God, we can love one another, and we can love those whose lives are messed up and polluted by sin.