Hovering over the first twenty-one verses of Ephesians 5 this morning. There’s a lot of to do’s and to don’t’s here. Ways to behave which are “proper among saints” (5:3), and behaviors more consistent with the “sons of disobedience” (5:6). Things consistent with being “light in the Lord” (5:8), and things more aligned to “the unfruitful works of darkness” (5:10). More things, frankly, than I think I can remember. So how I do obey all these things?
I’m captured by the opening and closing words of this section of Scripture. I’m wondering, if by taking these words to heart, I’m more likely to to do what I should and not to do what I shouldn’t.
Therefore be imitators of God . . . out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:1a, 5:21b ESV)
Be imitators of God. Sounds somewhat daunting. Yet I’m reminded of what Peter says:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
(2Peter 1:3-4 ESV)
It’s pretty clear that our salvation comes with more than just a “Get Out of Hell Free” card. It’s not just what we were saved from, but more so what we were saved for. Redeemed to be restored. Rescued to be regenerated. Born again that we might bear more accurately the image we were originally intended to bear — the image of God.
Thus, part of what comes with being born again is everything we need for life and godliness by His divine power. That, through His unfailing promises and indwelling power, we can actually become partakers of the divine nature. God has granted — He has “bestowed” upon us, has “gifted” us — all the tools we need to be imitators of God. Sure, we need to accept that by faith. But hey, we walk by faith and not by sight (2Cor. 5:7).
So, I got what I need to be an imitator of God. Mine then is to know God. Pursue God. Learn who God is. And then seek to imitate and reflect His nature and character.
And while there may be many motivators to undertake being an imitator, I wonder if there is any greater motivator than out of reverence for Christ.
Wanting to walk as I should walk, and not walk as I shouldn’t walk, because of Jesus. Wanting to do what the Father would do, because of what the Son has already done.
My life seen as an living and active “thank you” to the One who emptied Himself of heaven’s glory and came to earth to give His life as a ransom for my sin. Obedience birthed not from fear of not being blessed, but birthed because I am already fully “blessed in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6).
Motivated, as some translations render it, by the fear of Jesus. But not a cowering, I hope I measure up and don’t blow it fear. But an awe-induced respect for the One who purchased me with His own blood and now lives in me through His Spirit.
Sure, aspiring to imitate God is a big order. But we’ve been given all the tools we need to participate in the divine nature. What’s more, we been given all the motivation we need through our love and gratitude for His divine Son.
For Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all died. And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.
(2Corinthians 5:14-15 CSB)
Imitators of God out of reverence for Christ.
Only by His grace. That it would be for His glory.