Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God [b]as a fragrant aroma.”
The picture above shows my son Hunter, and one of his best friends Ace. Both young men are dressed up in clothing that you normally would not see them in. This is a picture of them when they played a pair of young kings in a play for Vacation Bible School. Obviously, to their parents they are more valuable than kings, but neither one have been passed down that title from the families they were born into.
In the same way our Scripture today tells us to be, “imitators of God” Hunter and Ace were being imitators of a pair of kings who received title and honor from their father. This is a bold and deep statement we are given in Scripture. “Therefore be imitators of God” tells us that we not only can be Christ like, but in fact we are to be Christ like!
Think about what it means to be an imitator. To imitate something means to act like, behave like, conduct oneself like something or someone else. We see this all the time on the television, at plays, musicals, movies and other places. I remember my dad and I one year took a week long camping trip to the Smoky Mountains. We always camped on the North Carolina side of the mountains on the Cherokee Indian Reservation at a place called Standing Deer Campground. One year my dad took me to a place called, “Ghost Town In The Sky”. Everyone had to travel an extra mile up in the mountains to get to the theme park. The theme of the park was an old ghost town from the west where cowboys and cowgirls lived. It was a lot of fun, and we had a blast. One of the neat things I remember about that place is that everyone who worked there was in costume. Everyone was either dressed up as a cowboy or cowgirl and they imitated the part. There were the good guys, the bad guys and the law.
Now, Paul is telling us in these two verses today that we are to be imitators of God Himself. The big difference between Christians imitating God and the workers imitating the old west is that we don’t have to put costumes on to do this. In fact, God doesn’t want us to just put on a veneer, or facade. He has made His children new creatures altogether in Christ. God has washed His children clean as the driven snow from every sin. He has made them new. They are actually a new creature, a new person in Jesus. That is the reason we ( God’s children ) are able to be, and should be imitator’s of God. We are not God, but God lives in us; therefore, we are more than just people putting on an imitation. We are God’s children who should be conducting ourselves like His children.
It’s important to notice in the later part of these two verses the greatest characteristic of being like Christ. That greatest characteristic is love. In fact, we are told to, “walk in love”. That is how important that characteristic of God is. He goes on to tell us that Christ loved us, and showed us that love by giving Himself for each of us. This type of love is sacrificial and authentic. In fact it is SO GOOD that it was like a beautiful offering with a fragrant aroma to God the Father from His glorious Son Jesus.
So here is the question(s) for you and me. When other people look at our lives what do they see? Are we imitating God who lives in us, or are we imitating people and things that would represent greater loves in our lives? It’s very likely if authentic love is characteristic of your life you are probably doing a good job being Christ like. However, if others have to search to find love as a characteristic of your life you might want to re-examine yourself today. Who or what are you imitating?