Summary: Matt 5:48, Philippians 2:3-5, John 13:1-5; Luke 6:36; Peter 1:16 Imitating our earthly fathers is great, but not as great as imitating our Heavenly Father through perfect love, mercy, servanthood, and holiness.
Imitating My Father
Today I want to talk to you about Imitating God.
Ever since we were kids, we have always tried to be someone else. Someone we could look up to, someone greater, more powerful, and invisible.
Before we step in to the Scripture, I want to tell you another true story about a baseball player that throughout his career all he wanted to do was to be like his dad.
How many of you like baseball? Ever heard of Cal Ripken Jr.? He played baseball for the Baltimore Orioles in Maryland.
On September 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. broke the baseball record that many believed would never be broken: Lou Gehrig’s record of playing over 2100 consecutive games.
Ripken gives much of the credit for his success to the example and teaching of his father. Throughout his life, Cal Ripken all he wanted to do in his life was to imitate his dad and make him proud.
During the 1996 season Cal Ripken Jr. was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame. During his acceptance speech, Cal Ripken recalls an emotional moment in his book “The only way I know”:
He says in his book:
It was difficult. I wasn’t certain I could say what I wanted about my father and what he means to me. So I told a little story about my two children, Rachel six years old and Ryan three years old.
They’d been fighting for weeks, and I explained how one day I heard Rachel arguing with Ryan saying, “You’re just trying to be like Daddy.”
After a few moments of listening to the arguing, I asked Rachel, “What’s wrong with trying to be like Dad?
When Cal Ripken Jr. finished telling his story, he looked at his father and said, “That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”
So here we see a baseball player trying to be like his dad and now his child, Ryan was trying to be like him.
From a Christian perspective, what could be more right than to try to be like our heavenly Father? What are the benefits of imitating our heavenly Father? What do we gain? The answer is in the book of Proverbs. To summarize the writing from King Solomon, to imitate God only brings true and lasting greatness to our lives.
So how do we even begin to imitate our heavenly Father? When the word “Father” comes to mind, what do you picture in your head? What do you see our heavenly Father being like? How can we imitate Him?
Please understand that imitating God does not mean we walk around in white linens, grow facial hair, and walk around with lightning bolts in our hands.
First, I want you to know that we can never be like our heavenly Father; He is literally one of a kind. He is Lord of lords, and King of kings.
Imitating God means that we should treat and love others the same way He treats us and loves us.
So today, I want to discuss four points that can help us to begin to imitate our heavenly Father:
1. We are to imitate our Father by being perfect in love- Matt 5:48
V43 You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” V44 But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. V45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. V46 If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for this? V47 If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about this? Don’t even believers do that? V48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Christ calls us to be perfect in relationships that not only surround us, such as the relationships of our friends and families, but also with our enemies.
This story takes place shortly after Christ is tested in the wilderness by the devil, and shortly after He begins to preach. He begins speaking to His disciples about “love” and what it means to love your friends, family, and your enemies.
Christ had his friends whom He loved, but He also had His enemies that wanted to kill Him. But He loved them all the same. Even Judas, who betrayed Him.
The “perfection” that Christ talks about in the end of this story deals with us loving our enemies and praying for anyone who abuses us or turns their backs on us.
The reason why this behavior needs perfection is because it takes a “special kind of character” in our soul to love those that do not love us back.