“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.”–Eph. 5:1-2
Two weeks ago, we discussed how Paul shows the church how God’s grace enables and commands us to lead holy lives. He continues that thread into chapter five, but before he continues his description of what believers’ lives should look like, he reminds the church of their new identity in Christ and calls them to a new life in response to it.
When you put your faith in Jesus, you didn’t just get forgiveness and a spot in heaven, as remarkable as that is. You got adopted by the God of the universe! How often we forget in our struggles and our sufferings that we are children of God. We are not God’s employees or simply God’s servants…we are His children!
We who deserve hell not only receive pardon and right standing with God, but we actually get adopted. Matt Chandler has described it like this: When God justifies us, that is, He forgives our sin, clothes us in Christ’s righteousness, and takes over as our God, He is acting as a judge. It’s best analogy is that of an employer and employee. I have had a good relationship with my bosses. There is nothing between us, and I have not been written up. However, I am not necessarily going to talk to them very often outside of work; I’m not going to hang out with them or have a personal relationship with them outside of work. This is similar to how God would be if He stopped at forgiving us and not counting us guilty. As amazing as that is, the gospel goes further than that.
As Chandler describes, God, as He forgives us and declares us righteous in Christ, takes off the judge’s robes and takes the role, not just of judge, but of Father. Now, we don’t just have forgiveness, we have fellowship. We don’t just have eternal life, we have an eternal Father who has called us into a life-changing relationship with Him. That’s why the difference between Christianity and other religions is a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus. I usually hate cheesy phrases, and sometimes that gets thrown in that mix, but it is absolutely true.
And this new relationship brings new responsibilities.
We are to be “imitators of God.” All of the descriptions Paul gives of holiness is not to be done as just a to-do list as we said two weeks ago, but in an attempt to be who we are in Christ and glorify our Father. We want to glorify God, and how do we do that? We imitate Him.
And we walk in love. Jesus talked about this when He said the law can be summed up by “loving God” and “loving others like yourself.”
When we love God, we want to do what pleases Him. When we love God, we love what He loves, and we want to be with Him, and we naturally do what He calls us to do.
When we love others, we want to do what helps them, and we put their needs above our own. This is what Jesus did for us by dying for us on the cross.
So, for us who know the love of the Father, we honor God by imitating Him and doing what He calls us to do. And we honor Him by loving others by serving their needs.
There’s no A-B-C list of how to meet others’ needs. We simply must look around and see needs and meet them.
Lord, may we remember that we have been adopted, not merely forgiven. May we rejoice and rest in your love. May we have eyes that see others’ needs and meet them, so we imitate and honor you.