Summary: 42nd in a series from Ephesians. We are to imitate the love of God as demonstrated by Jesus.
At the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, Steve Bridges appeared alongside of President George Bush. You’re probably asking, “Who is Steve Bridges?” I could tell you who he is, but instead, let’s watch and see.
[Clip from White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner showing George Bush and Steve Bridges impersonating him appear together]
Over the last seven or eight years, many of us have probably seen a whole lot of people try to imitate George Bush, but that performance by Steve Bridges is by far the best I’ve seen. In fact, if any of us here tried to imitate George Bush, we’d fall way short of his efforts, I’m sure. But did you know that the Bible instructs all of us who are children of God to be imitators? As we enter into chapter 5 of Ephesians this morning, that’s exactly what Paul commands us to do. Let’s read our passage out loud together.
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, 2 (NIV)
That’s a pretty tall order, isn’t it? Paul says, that as dearly loved children of God, we are to imitate our heavenly Father. The word translated “imitate” is the word from which we get our English word “mimic” and “mime.” So the picture that Paul gives us here is that we are to mimic, or imitate God in the same way that a child mimics his father.
All of us who are parents can relate to that idea. We have watched, often in horror, as our children try to mimic us. Country singer Rodney Atkins wrote a song titled “Watching You” that causes us to think about just how much our kids try to be like us. Listen to these lyrics:
Drivin’ through town just my boy and me
With a “Happy Meal” in his booster seat
Knowin’ that he couldn’t have the toy ‘til his nuggets were gone.
A green traffic light turned straight to red
I hit my brakes and mumbled under my breath.
His fries went a flyin’, and his orange drink covered his lap
Well, then my four year old said a four letter word
It started with “S” and I was concerned
So I said, “Son, now where’d you learn to talk like that?”
He said, I’ve been watching you, dad ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we dad
I want to do everything you do.
So I’ve been watching you.
But the idea of us being able to imitate our heavenly Father is something that’s on a whole different level. In our Tuesday morning men’s Bible study, I think we all had the same initial reaction to this command – it’s impossible for any of us to do that. But as I’ve looked at this passage more this week, it’s clear that Paul doesn’t expect us to imitate everything about God. Because He is God and we are not, there is a lot about God we could never even come close to imitating – His omniscience, his omnipotence and omnipresence are just the beginning of that list.
But in this passage, Paul exhorts us to imitate just one characteristic of God - the way He loves. We are to live a life of love, and that love is to be based on God’s demonstration of His love for us in His Son, Jesus. We are to love others in the same way that Jesus loves us and gave Himself up for us. We shouldn’t be surprised at Paul’s command here since it was Jesus Himself that told his disciples the very same thing right before He went to the cross:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:34, 35 (NIV)
Not only did Jesus command His followers to love each other in the same way He had loved them, but He also made it clear that their love for each other would be the measure as to whether they were truly His disciples. In his epistle, John reinforced this same principle:
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
If we’re going to claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then we need to follow in His footsteps and live a life of love. And if we’re going to imitate God and live a life of love, then we need to take some time this morning to explore...