February at Proximity
Be An Imitator
We started our new series called Imitator this month and it will take us through til May. We started off my looking at imitation in our world. Imitation saturates our world. We choose (whether consciously or unconsciously) our fashion style by imitating our friends or what we see on T.V. or magazines or the internet. Technology companies imitate each other as Blackberry started off the smart phone trend with Apple and Samsung and others imitating them with their own versions. Our preferences for movies, t.v. shows, games, music and even phrases we say are influenced and imitated from other people. But there is also a good kind of imitation, a kind that unlocks our potential rather than putting a lid on it. Paul talks about this positive imitation in Ephesians 5:1-2:
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (NLT)
Paul is continuing an argument that he started back in chapter two. In chapter 2 he tells them about the new life the Ephesians have because of God's grace and Christ's sacrifice; in chapter 3 he shares the gospel and the strength available to them through Christ; in Chapter 4 he says this:
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each others faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves together with peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)
What does it mean to lead a life worthy of our calling? Paul says be humble, be gentle, be patient, be forgiving. Basically live out these Christlike attributes, imitate Jesus! We see three things about imitation in these passages:
1. We are called to live our lives as imitators of God. This summarizes Paul's 4 chapter long argument. We have a new life because of what Jesus has done in his death and resurrection and so we need to put away our sinful selves, the selves that imitated the world, and instead imitate God.
2. The call to imitate is shown throughout Scripture. Right at the very beginning God creates humanity by saying "let us create them in our image, in our likeness." We were created with the purpose of imaging God right at the very beginning. Later, God calls Israel to be his "kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:6). Their purpose was to be imitators of God to show all the other nations what God was like.
3. Jesus is the perfect example of a godly life. The call to imitate God is no longer an abstract idea. Jesus comes and shows what imitating God looks like. He gives us a practical example of what imitating God looks like.