Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Good To Be Like God!

I can be like God!  Really!  This isn't a joke about Doctors or some kind of misguided mythology.  Not only can I be like God, the Bible tells me that is exactly what God expects from me.
Probably one of the most ignored and intimidating verses in the whole Bible is Ephesians 5:1, "Be imitators of God."  I have certainly been guilty of "observing the pass-over" on that verse - which is amazing considering how much I use the verse right before it!  I always connected 4:32 with the "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths," (vs.29) which does seem to conclude with "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Period - new chapter - new verse - new subject!  Wrong.  If the "therefore" had come before that next phrase "Be imitators of God" I wouldn't have been able to miss the connection!  BUT - the call to imitate God is part of forgiving one another the same way God forgives us!  SO - BE LIKE HIM!
What really makes it difficult to deal with is our tendency to automatically associate being like God with ego and/or being in control.  We know that is the wrong mind-set, but we've heard too many jokes and too many stories about people who THOUGHT they were a god.  And then add the other complication of assuming it means being perfect/holy like God.  No problem there- right?  Even when we understand that his grace makes us holy, we know that self-generated perfection is not an option.  So - we end up skipping over this and moving on to the stuff about husbands and wives, and the armor of God.
The beauty of this passage is that the Holy Spirit tells us how we can imitate God.  As "dearly loved children" we "live a life of love."  That life of love is living unselfishly and sacrificially for others - the way Jesus did.  It's not about perfection but about loving others!  Jesus "loved us and gave himself up for us" and that is a "fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  The Holy Spirit not only defines imitating God, but it gives us the perfect example of what it looks like.  Jesus!  Imitating God is living a life of love for others.  God is love, and love is greater than perfection, but his love for us makes us perfect.  Remember, according to 1 Corinthians 13, love is even greater than faith and hope.
So, in spite of my sin and imperfections, I can be like God.  As I grow in love and learn to love others in an honest, giving, and sacrificial way - I am being like God.  There is no ego, or control, or need to feel superior to anyone, but rather loving others so much, like Jesus did, that I'm thrilled to be His servant and love Him by loving others the way He does.

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