Imitators of God

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

-Ephesians 5:1-2

When was the last time you played Simon Says? It’s a simple game: the leader tells you what to do, and you do it. The only catch is that if the leader doesn’t say “Simon says” at the beginning of the instruction, you definitely don’t do whatever it is. If Simon says jump, you jump. If Simon says clap your hands, you clap. If the leader says simply “touch your knees,” you better not! It’s a silly game, but one that kids often love because it’s so easy—and because it’s fun to copy the the leader.

Kids often copy their role models, whether it’s a parent, teacher, older sibling, or friend. They learn habits, good and bad, by imitation. If a parent supports a particular sports team, odds are that their kid will, too. If a teacher shows their love of reading, students often follow suit. From vocabulary to hobbies to values, kids imitate the people around them. It’s like Simon Says, but on a much larger scale.

Of course, it isn’t just children who imitate what they want to be. Adults copy one another, too. The whole advertising industry thrives on adults seeing something they want their life to be like and hoping that buying the right car, watch, medication, or haircut will lead to satisfaction. Rows of self-help books at Barnes & Noble feature inspirational authors who turned their lives around, and so can you, if you just follow their advice to the letter. At least, that’s what they say.

Everybody is imitating somebody. Who are your role models? Who are you copying? For the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, they needed a reminder to check their role models and make an effort to imitate God. In particular, this letter urged them to be like children, imitating God’s love in their lives.

That’s a serious challenge. Imitate God like a beloved child imitates their parent, and live in love. Don’t live in judgment, or guilt, or competition. Don’t live in doubt, or worry, or fear. Don’t live in anger, or greed, or pride. Live in love. Settle into love. Put down roots in love. Copy God, whose love for us was so great that Jesus Christ gave up everything so we could be called beloved children of God.

It’s like Simon Says: God says love. God says love. Again, and again, God says love.

God, make me an imitator of you. Let me copy your love like a child copies their parent. May my whole life be lived in love. Amen.