Summary: This sermon series asks the question - Do we really look like Jesus? Are we disciples or are we just tagging along? Are we becoming imitators of God?

The Next Best Thing

Eight Secrets to Imitating Christ Pt 4

Ephesians 5

A couple of weeks ago we began this series looking at Paul’s challenge to the church to be Imitators of Christ. The question that we posed last week and will continue to pose during this series is “Are you the next best thing to Jesus in the lives of those around you?” Paul shares eight secrets to imitating Christ in this passage - practical stuff to help us look like Him.

 V.15 - Be careful how you walk

 V.16 - Redeem you time

 V.17 - Make it your purpose to understand the will of God

 V.18 - Be careful what touches your heart

 V.19 - Let worship become your lifestyle

Today I want to continue with verse 20-21

1) Secret #6 - Make Thanksgiving Your Habit - (v.20) - Paul says that not only should worship and one-anothering be our lifestyle but that giving thanks should be our habit. Part of being filled with the Spirit is learning to give thanks in all things. This is not the only place that Paul links these two things - to the church at Thessalonica Paul writes, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the spirit…”. Why is a habit of thanksgiving crucial to being an imitator of God? Think about it with me - in all that you know of Jesus - is there ever a record of a single complaint? You see complaining is the opposite of thanksgiving. If you make giving thanks your habit several things happen to you:

• You become a more positive person - I can’t think of a single person who was more positive than Jesus. Even in the deepest problems He sees possibilities. When thanksgiving is your habit you begin to look for the potential and the possibility not the problem. Paul says “we rejoice in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…” Dr. John Williams our general superintendent is my mentor in this - I’m telling you if you gave the man a box of manure he would be looking in it for the pony. It’s an amazing gift to see good even in the worst situations. It’s an amazing faith that sees potential in problems. And truth be told - it makes you look like Jesus.

• You become a more content person - This world around us is built on discontent. Always we talk about rights and about what we deserve to have. Our entire economy is based on desire - It’s funny that the kingdom of God is built on contentment. Paul says “I have learned the secret to being content no matter what my circumstances…” Giving thanks in all things forces us to acknowledge that life and all that it contains is really a gift. It’s not about what I deserve - it’s about the blessings I have been given. It makes you look more like Jesus.

• You become a happier person - Let me tell you something, nothing is more energizing than a thank you. It makes you feel good - both to give and receive. Giving thanks when it is your habit - makes you appreciative of the people and the world around you. You begin to see that the world isn’t really out to get you - it just seems that way sometimes. When the church becomes a place of thanksgiving you will find that there are far more people rooting for you than there are trying to tear you down. It’s cool to be rooted for and it’s even cooler to root for someone else. It makes you look more like Jesus.

2) Secret #7 - Find humility in life (v.21) - be subject to one another, in the fear of Christ. I have said to you before and I will say it again today “Christianity is meant to be lived in community.” Paul says that we are to subject to one another. The world and the flesh is dominated by a kind of perverse egotism that demands that the world really revolves around me. No not just the world but the universe. Everything revolves around my needs, my wants, my desires, my rights, my due. The principle of the Kingdom is quite different:

• Phil 2:3-8 -

John 13:12-17

If we look at the example of Jesus we begin to see that truly life isn’t about me at all - it’s about the people around me.

Do you remember that last week I said that verses 18-21 were all connected. Listen to me this morning - look at what Paul advocates here. Be filled with the spirit - making one-anothering worship your lifestyle, making thanksgiving your habit, and making service to each other in humility your goal. Let me ask you - if that is what we become as a church - what will people think of Christ? If we live this way - what will people think of Jesus? If we live like this - won’t we be the next best thing to Jesus?

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