Watching my two-year-old granddaughter engage in a church service helped me understand what it means to imitate God. Here’s how it happened.
When the worship team began playing their music, I picked Lexi up so she could see the goings-on. She didn’t miss a thing. She noticed when someone clapped, and she did likewise. She saw those who raised their hands in praise, and she played copycat. She watched as individuals folded their hands in prayer, and she did the same. This little child learned to engage in worship by imitating fellow worshipers in everything they did—singing included, even though she didn’t know the words. Watching her made my heart smile.
Imagine the smile we bring to our heavenly Father’s heart when we imitate Him.
The apostle Paul gave this directive to the believers in Ephesus: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT)
We might wonder how it’s possible to imitate someone we can’t see. That’s a valid question, and God answered it by sending Jesus. Jesus is God incarnate, so we imitate the invisible God when we follow Jesus’ example. Everything He did was motivated by love – love for His Father and love for mankind.
Paul said this was how the believers in Ephesus were to live. And this instruction, my friend, remains true for us today. As God’s dear children, we are to imitate Him by living a life filled with love for Him and for mankind.
The latter part is easier said than done sometimes, right? Anyone can love other people when they’re pleasant. When they share their time and resources with us. When they listen to what we say without interrupting or passing judgement. When they laugh at our jokes and share the same interests and keep their promises.
But loving other people is challenging when they’re more focused on their own interests than on ours. When they don’t listen to us with their heart, don’t value the things we value, and don’t keep the promises they make to us. Loving others is hard to do sometimes, especially when they don’t love us back as we wish they would.
Aren’t you glad God never gives us impossible commands?
When He tells us to do something hard, He always gives us everything we need to obey. In this case, He’s given us the Holy Spirit who empowers us to love even when it’s hard. But He’s also given us an example to follow—that is, Christ’s example of loving us even when we didn’t deserve it.
Romans 5:8 explains it well. It says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” God didn’t withhold His love from us until we deserved it. Rather, He poured out His love on us when we didn’t deserve it, and He did it through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.
Let’s think about how we can imitate God in everything we do by living a life filled with love toward others even when our emotions tell us they don’t deserve it.
Watching my two-year-old granddaughter imitate those engaged in worship brought a huge smile to my heart. Imagine God’s smile over you as He watches you imitate Him in everything you do. Imagine His delight in watching you live a life filled with love, especially sacrificial love as Jesus demonstrated so well for us.