Imitating the Father: Why Bother?

Daily Devotion | Day 308

“Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1, NKJV).

Imitation of the Father is the essence of a Christian’s calling. Imitating God is intrinsic to worship. Therefore, without the imitation of the Father, Christian worship is vain. Part of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to reveal to us the Father’s nature and to show us how to be like our Father in heaven. In view of this, His ministry included a strong emphasis on the Father and the call to imitate Him. To be a Christian means to be about the Father’s business – as Jesus was: “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). To imitate God means to make the Father’s business your business. And that’s the point of being a Christian.

In a single sentence, Paul sums up the calling of a Christian. Writing to the Ephesians, he says, “be imitators of God as dear children.” Paul doesn’t want Christians to be children of God in name only. Being a child of God comes with a mission. And it is the mission which lends credibility to the name. Paul’s point is this: To be a child of God means to be an imitator of God. The two things are inseparable. “Child of God” describes what you are and “imitator of God” describes what you do. To be authentic, what you are and what you do must agree. This was the case with Jesus. He was (and is) the Son of God and an imitator of the Father. As He plainly testified, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19; see also 12:49-50).

Imitating the Father involves three things: knowledge, motivation and transformation.

First, you cannot imitate what you don’t know.

You can only imitate what you know. Therefore, when Paul talks about imitating God, he is assuming that you know God. Without knowledge there can be no imitation. This means you need to study your Father. A lot is revealed about Him in the Bible. When the Bible talks about God, you need to pay attention because the message is about your Father. The better you know your Father, the better you can imitate Him. To imitate the Father, you must first know His nature and understand His ways.

Second, to imitate someone, you must be interested and motivated.

Love is the most powerful and the most authentic motivation there is. Love is what drives you to want to be like someone. It’s the same with the Father. You won’t waste time imitating what you don’t love. Whom you love, you imitate. Therefore, to imitate the Father, you must first love Him. Imitating the Father is evidence that you love Him. One proof that God is your Father is that you’re passionate about imitating Him. And, love is what sustains your interest in imitating God.

Third, imitation leads to transformation.

What you imitate, you become. You can’t imitate someone without that person’s character or worldview becoming a part of you. The more you imitate the Father, the more you will look like Him in your speech, in your thinking and in your deeds. In Christian spirituality, imitation of God is empowering. When you imitate God, you draw power and inspiration from Him. Recall that we’re the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). This should tell us something. We exist to imitate the Person whose likeness we are. It is in doing this that we are transformed, elevated and empowered.

Don’t be a child of God in name only. Know your Father. Be an imitator of God. Amen.

For further studyJohn 8:13-59

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