Prayer Focus: Uzbekistan

Bible Reading: Ephesians 5-6; Titus 1-3

Scripture:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;  and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Observation:

These passages from Ephesians and Titus are so rich and vibrant. To unpack it all would take more space and time than this blog would allow. Paul isn’t saying anything radically new here, though it’s the only time he discusses armor (look for it in the OT, however)  – there are echoes of Colossians, examples of how we should live with one another, reminders of God’s care and purpose for us and how to be strong {think armor of God}. Then Titus, such great stuff there, masquarading as a checklist of sorts, but powerful “so that” statements in chapter 2. Helpful reminders in Chapter 3 about where we’ve been so that we’re extending grace to others. . . great stuff. So imagine my surpise when, sitting down to write this, I’m captivated by the very first verse. Let’s unpack it together.

Application:

Be imitators – Isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Not the mocking type we sometimes see, but the idolizing, I want to be like you kind? What does it mean to imitate. We’re good at comparing ourselves. Imitate means to pretend doesn’t it?  Does Paul mean we are to be a people who fake it? I don’t think so. Wouldn’t it be better to emulate God? Emulate means strive to equal, that sounds good.  There’s more room for excusing our behavior if it’s bad. I mean, who can be perfect. . we’re just striving.

How exhausting. That doesn’t even sound like fun. According to Webster, Imitate means to reproduce or copy someone’s behaviour or looks. Wait – that sounds an awful lot like making disciples, doesn’t it? 

 Paul tells us to be Imitators of God. As beloved children. . .  .ahhh, suddenly this starts making more sense, right? Are you with me? Not as slaves, or servants, but as children and not only that, but beloved children. Adored, cherished, cared for. . . from this position, how can we not desire to be like God? 

Verse 2 is an extension . . .because if Paul had stopped at the end of verse 1 it would have been enough. But, he continues and reminds us of Christ’s love for us – individually – i.e. loved YOU, and collectively – i.e .gave himself up for US. As Christ ‘imitated’ the Father, doing only what would honor God, so should we be imitators of God – not our neighbors or each other, but God. 

Prayer

Father, as a beloved child, words are so inadequate to express my love to You. My thanks for all you’ve done, for the ways in which You model for me how I am to behave and respond to those around me. Help me to be more like You. Thank you for the example of Jesus, which points me back to You. Help me to fix my eyes- to respond in love and obedience to You, just as He did. May my life be a frangrant offering. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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