For whatever you thought of the WWJD season, “What Would Jesus Do?” wasn’t a bad filter to be running daily decisions through. But it was a season, I think. The marketing frenzy seems to have passed. Not many wearing the wristbands or t-shirts anymore.
This morning, though, it comes to mind because of another question Paul might have us set in motion as a grid for doing life. WDJD?
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love . . .
(Ephesians 5:1-2a ESV)
Be imitators of God. Honestly, first time I read through this very familiar Ephesians passage, I practically skipped right over that command to obey. But a second reading, and a little bit of chewing, and you almost start choking on it. Imitate God?!? Really? That’s a bit ambitious isn’t it?
Maybe not. Though we’re no God . . . ain’t even close . . . we are image-bearers of God. Created to bear God’s likeness. Wired at the most intrinsic level as THEY are (Gen. 1:26-27).
And then we were re-created, by faith in the finished work of the cross, to be conformed to that likeness (Rom. 8:29). Though all that intrinsic wiring from creation had been short-circuited by sin, though we were once dead in transgressions, we were born again, infused with the living Spirit of God, the active agency by which the intrinsic material could be taken and made into a living reality. So, says Paul, “Be imitators of God.”
But how? Not gonna happen by becoming omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. No omni’s about us. Though now infused with a power from the realms of heaven, we’re still frail creatures of the dust of the earth.
But when we walk in love, Paul says, we imitate God. When, as beloved children, we love in return, we mirror our Maker. We reflect our Redeemer. We simulate our Savior. And that, as we ask ourselves continually, WDJD? What Did Jesus Do?
And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:2 ESV)
What did Jesus do? He offered Himself to God, fully submitting His will to the Father’s. And having done that, He gave Himself up for us. His body nailed to a tree. His blood poured out on the ground. The once for all atoning sacrifice for our sin.
And so, we imitate God when we incarnate the gospel. We imitate God by walking in love as Christ loved. Giving ourselves for others as we offer ourselves as sacrifices to God.
It starts with the sacrifice, starts with a vertical response to Him for the love shown to us through the giving of His Son. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), just as Jesus did.
And with the vertical operational, the horizontal becomes possible. Loving others, whether they deserve it not, because they too are image-bearers. Loving others because that’s what Jesus did. Able to do what Jesus did because it’s “no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
Because of what Jesus did, I’ve been given an example of how to imitate God and how to walk in love. What’s more, because of what Jesus did, I am also empowered to imitate God and love like Jesus loved.
Thus, I can act like God by abiding in the gospel. Mimic Him in some small way as my mind never strays far from WDJD?
By His grace. For His glory.