“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Perhaps the common denominator among all people is the desire to love and to be loved. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t long to know love. We were created for relationship – first and foremost with Jesus Christ and second, with one another. Love is a driving force in this world and in our lives. And while we all long for love, many if not all of us have also been wounded by its power, leaving us with a very tainted understanding of what true love really is. We, then, mistakenly project the human love that we’ve tasted onto an infinite God, and somewhere along the way, we’ve missed the greatest love of all.
Paul begins chapter five with a very clear and important reminder. As he wraps up his juxtaposition of the old and the new life in Christ in chapter four, he adds further instruction to the “how” of it all by addressing our highest calling and purpose in this life with his opening words in chapter five: “Be imitators of God.” While perhaps an overwhelming call to obedience, to imitate Christ is not impossible. God would never ask us to become more like Him every day if it were an unattainable feat. The singular purpose of our sanctification is to grow in the likeness of our Savior, one day and one obedience at a time. Our sanctification is continual steps of obedience in the same direction over the course of a long time, resulting in transformation and life change. And what are those steps of obedience? To go where He went. To do what He did. To love like He loved.
In order for the believer to imitate Christ, we must first know and believe that we are dearly loved. To love like Christ loves requires an understanding that we are the very recipients of this great love. A child who knows they are loved responds very differently than the child who doesn’t. There is a confidence that comes in knowing that you are loved. If you and I can choose today to walk confidently in the love that the Father has lavished upon us, we could boldly and confidently be ambassadors of that love to a world in desperate need of it. And if, for that matter, we walked in love just as Christ walked in love, the aroma of this world could be one that pleases and glorifies God.
Think about the impact this one choice could make on our world. Think about how different this world would be if it were filled with people who consistently sacrificed self for the sake of others. What would today look like if you were patient and kind in your dealings with every person that you encountered? What would tomorrow look like if each person you encountered today chose to imitate your Christ-like behavior tomorrow?
The call to us all in the book of Ephesians is to know what we believe, and to then live what we believe. This is our chance. The time is now. Live and love sacrificially. This is the kind of love Christ has for His children, and this is the kind of love we are called to imitate. If we would only rest confidently in Christ’s love for us, and if we would only imitate that very love to others, not only would we fulfill our highest calling and purpose on this side of heaven, but we would be ushering countless others to do the same. If Jesus Christ is alive within you and me, we will rise to this calling. We will stand for this purpose. We will give of ourselves as Christ gave of Himself. We will live for His glory and the fame of His name and no longer for our own. We will fix our eyes on His face. We will love as He loved. For this is the greatest love.
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