I have been struggling with this phrase for some time now… It says in Ephesians 5:1-
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.”
In my mind I always looked at imitation as a negative thing…
No one really loves imitation cheese, imitation sugar, imitation leather
or any other imitation thing but we all want the real thing!
So when I would read this passage I would always look at it in an incorrect or negative light.
I still don’t know if I have it right but what God is showing me
is that I have not been walking my life out as an imitator or mimicking Him through my life and walk.
The Message translation helped me with this verse.
” Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.
Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.
Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant.
He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.
Love like that.”
How can you imitate someone that you don’t really know?
I can’t truly say that I understand or know who God is because I have spent so much of my time hiding from Him, scared that my thoughts, feelings or wants would make him unhappy. I have spent so much time trying to DO what I thought He would want that I have not sought out what and who He truly is so that I can emulate the love and life that He is calling me to.
Since my view of my earthly father has not been positive I still have a hard time understanding what proper behavior is that I was supposed to be learning from my parent. I learned manipulation, anger, fear, unforgiveness and loving someone only to get your needs met.
Yet at the end of verse 1 in the Message translation it says that He loved us, not so that He could get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. I don’t know or understand that kind of love.
But I want to!
And I want to learn to imitate that kind of love instead!
So where do I start?
“Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”
― George Bernard Shaw
When doing a word study on the word “imitator” I found an awesome study on the word and it helped me to understand it better.
“In order to add the background to Paul’s requirement, we must go back to chapter 4 and look at his previous argument. Notice what he says:
Walk worthily of the calling (4:1), be humble and meek (4:2), be long-suffering and bear with one another (4:2), chase unity (4:3), exercise your ability to provide for the body (4:11), seek perfect completion (4:12), be fully grown in faith (4:13), speak the truth in love (4:15), assist each other (4:16), be distinctively different from the world (4:17), put off the old man (4:22), be renewed in the Spirit (4:23), put on the new man (4:24), be a good neighbor (4:25), do not sin (4:26), give no opportunity for the Accuser (4:27), do not steal (4:28), domesticate your tongue (4:29), do not grieve the Spirit (4:30), turn away from unholy attitudes (4:31), be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving (4:32).
After all this, “then” imitate God. Like most of Paul’s rabbinic instruction, we are not left in the dark about what to do. If you want to imitate God, just do those things listed in chapter 4.”
If you look at it closely it really does match up well with the well quoted 1 Corinthians 13 chapter in the bible, known by most as the love chapter.
I think so many times in my life when I find disunity in myself that it makes it hard to be unified with anyone else.
When I am struggling and wrestling with thoughts, feelings, emotions or life events that have unfolded, it keeps me distracted from walking this out. It keeps me from walking in unity with others and therefore keeps me from being an imitator of God to others around me.
I want to seek to know Him more,
to be content with the place He has me,
to learn from the past and let it go,
to look to the future with hope and thanksgiving,
knowing that as I continue this walk with Him,
He will reveal more and more of Himself
So I might mimic my perfect Father,
And even though His steps mammoth
compared to mine,
He will lovingly slow down His pace
so that my tiny feet can keep up.