Good morning my friends. I pray this fine Monday morning is finding you healthy and well, ready to start an exciting brand new week. God is good and that is all that should matter this morning. We are moving on to Ephesians 5.
It is both fun and interesting to watch children grow up. There are so many identifiable stages that they go through. From crawlers, to toddlers , to over active 9 year olds the growth is amazing. One of the more interesting stages is when little boys begin to want to be like their dads and little girls want to be like their moms. They become imitators of their parents in everything they do and say. For some parents this is a frightening stage as their children demonstrate the bad along with the good.
It is in this sense of imitation that Paul writes:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. vs. 1-2
There are a numbers of things we can take from this simple sentence. The first is that God, more specifically Jesus, is the example we are to follow. We do not follow and try to become like Paul, or Peter, or John, or our pastor or anyone we might admire. Jesus lived his life as an example for us so that he could become the measuring rod with which we use to compare ourselves. That is usually the role of the first born in the family. Whatever example the first born sets is usually the footsteps in which the younger siblings follow.
This sentence also tells us that we are dearly loved children. This fact of being loved should thrill you this morning to the point of turning a bad night into a good day. It is this love that makes all the difference to us as we realize that we are loved no matter what we face today. That love is enough, we don't need anything else. Is that how you feel as you face this day? I hope so because it means that you have experienced Jesus and it is not a matter of you only knowing of him. To have met Jesus is to be totally convinced of the Father's love.
We cannot experience that love without responding to it. In fact we cannot experience that love without it changing us. What has changed and how we respond is really a simple and natural thing; we begin to love others with this same quality love. Our life becomes a life of love as forgiveness and grace become natural features of our character. We become a person who can accept and tolerate many kinds of people, realizing that Jesus died for all of us.
It is this ultimate sacrifice, born of his love, that causes such changes in us. When we realize to what extent that he loves us and his Father it stirs something in us that causes us to want to love with this same love. To love us so much that he was willing to suffer and die for that love. This real and exciting love causes our concern for self to change to a compassion for others. We find ourselves responding to their needs without any thought to ourselves and we become imitators of Jesus. Loving others as Jesus loves us becomes our response to his perfect and exciting love. Oh how he loves us!
I am afraid that it is as simple as that. When we experience his love, experience it and not just know it, we love in return, and everything is changed. So go on my friends, be imitators of Jesus today wherever you are and in whatever you do. Love with his love because ours is not good enough for the task and watch this extremely powerful love change your day, your life and the lives of everyone you meet.