Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Imitation of God: Ephesians 4:32-5:16

Within the entertainment industry, there is a small entourage of very talented folk who make their living imitating celebrities. The imitators, or, "imposters" as some are called, who succeed at their trade do so because of their amazing talent, gifts/abilities, that allow them to imitate their particular celebrity so closely that it can be almost impossible to tell them from the real thing, except in the case of dead celebrities, of course. For some, however, there is an additional reason for their success, it's called plastic surgery. But nevertheless, many of them have tapped into a rather lucrative market with great results. There are night clubs scattered around the country that feature exclusively these imitators.

While these celebrity impersonators are fun and amazingly talented, there will come a day when the individuals working in this field at the present will no longer be able to carry it off. Then what?

For the Christian, however, there is an imitation with eternal benefits, one that we are in fact, commanded to carry off. And as impossible as it may sound at first, it is the imitation of none other than God Himself.

THE IMPERATIVE: THE "MOOD OF FAITH"

Ephesians 5:1 presents the commandment, the imperative, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children,"
with the imperative occuring in that little word, that two letter verb, "be" (the verb in the Greek text consists of seven letters). The imperative is one of several "moods" in Greek grammar along with the indicative, subjunctive, and optative, the imperative being the "mood of command." It is described by scholars as the mood least likely to be fulfilled. However, I will present a little twist, an exception if you will, to that understanding. In the New Testament epistles it is often, as I refer to it, the "mood of faith."

When Paul commands an action as he does in our passage, the action we are commanded to take is doable. Therefore when Paul commands us to imitate God it means we can do it, we can imitate God. The imperative is then the mood of faith, the "can do" mood.

It is incredible, we can imitate God.

THE "HOW" OF IMITATING GOD
I am going to provide merely an outline of how the apostle lays out for us the path to imitating God.

First, "We can imitate God by forgiving as He has forgiven us."
        A. The word "therefore" is the key to discovering this; it points from 5:1 back to what the apostle has just said in 4:32.

Second, "We can imitate God by loving as He has loved us." 5:2

Third, "We can imitate God by being holy as He is holy." 5:3-7

Fourth, "We can imitate God by being light as He is light." 5:8-16

If as "dear children" we want to imitate anyone, who better to imitate than our Father. And, it is doable. We can imitate God.