In the movie Jaws there is a scene where Chief Brody is sitting at his kitchen table, frustrated at events and deep in thought. Across the table sits the Chief’s youngest son. In the silence of the moment, the boy begins to imitate his father’s every move—an act that brings a smile to the Chief’s face when he notices.
In life we learn by imitation. As kids grow older, sometimes the imitation is done out of love like in that movie, and other times it is done to annoy a sibling or classmate. Either way, we are still people who imitate others. Some imitation is bad. When done to annoy or when the imitation is of a sinful act, the results are never good. We as Christians, though, are called to the highest form of imitation.
So you should be imitators of God, like dear children. ~ Ephesians 5:1
As Christians our purpose in life is to imitate God as much as we can. Obviously, there are some aspects of God that we cannot imitate. God is all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere present. We are none of these. But we can imitate God in a variety of ways.
We imitate God’s character. First John 4:8 tells us that God is love. Paul went on to write in Ephesians 5:2, “Conduct yourself in love, just as Christ loved us.” When we love self-sacrificially and for the good of another, we love as God loves. When we pursue justice for those treated unjustly by corrupt world systems, we act in the same justice that God shows. When we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit such as joy, patience, kindness, goodness, etc., we are imitating these things in God.
We imitate God’s creativity. This is something in which we might not be able to fully imitate God, but we can partially imitate him. We cannot create something from nothing with only a word. We can however use the tools, gifts, and abilities that God has given us to create something new out of what exists. We can build buildings, shape statues, paint pictures, write stories, and compose music. God has also designed us, along with all of life, to create a new generation through reproduction.
We imitate God’s mission. Jesus said he came to earth to seek and save that which is lost. In other words, he came to be the Savior and Redeemer of sinful and rebellious men and women. Then Jesus said to us as his followers, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). No, we cannot imitate God in being the savior of others; but we can pursue his mission by taking the word and knowledge of Jesus to others and point them to the one true Savior.
In these things we are to live out the truth like Father like son (child). This doesn’t mean that we will all look the same, talk the same, work the same jobs, have the same number of children, etc. No, God has given the world a vast variety for his glory, so we will have different talents, personalities, backgrounds, passions, and experiences. Yet, we still are called to be like our loving Father and our magnificent Savior-King.
Imitating God is more than the highest form of flattery, it is the best way we can live life for his glory.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.