Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 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.
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”
We were at a Billy Joel concert just two years ago. He is a talented musician, although his music doesn’t reflect the best Christian virtues. That, however, is not the reason for mentioning him. Near the beginning of the concert, Billy looked up at the large Jumbotron screen above the stage. He did a double take, and then said, “Hi Dad!”
I know the feeling. There are also times when I look at my face and see my dad staring me in the mirror. I’m not really sure how I feel about that – except that he was a good father, husband, and Christian man. He died when he was 64 so I’ve outlived him by several years already now.
God wants us to be his imitators, reflections of his character and attitude toward people and the whole of creation. We don’t really know what God looks like. In fact, it’s likely that we don’t really have a good idea of what Jesus of Nazareth looked like. But I’m almost positive that he did not look like a caucasian with blond hair and blue eyes.
I remember when I first encountered a picture of a black Jesus. I was incensed. How dare they!?! Interesting that I never had that reaction to a white, blond haired blue eyed Jesus. Some researchers have concluded that Jesus may have looked like this construct based on anthropological and archaeological studies.
Who knows what he really looked like. And no one has seen God apart from Jesus – God in the flesh. We are left, therefore, with a call to imitate God as a call to reflect his nature, character, desires, and purpose in the world. We’ll never do that perfectly, but the calling is clear.
This is why we are to avoid sexual immorality, for such behavior only uses other people. It is not true love.
This is why we are to avoid crude language and rather give thanks to God, for he is the giver of everything, and we honor him when we acknowledge as much.
That is why we are to shine the light of God’s love and truth on ourselves and the world. That way we expose our need for the mercy and forgiveness of God, and enlighten the people around us about truth, grace, love, kindness, holiness, and justice.
I have been told that my sons bear a strong likeness to me. I suppose that may be true. I hope, however, that they bear an even greater likeness to my love for God, my faith in him, and my hopes for their and their children’s eternal wellbeing.