Have you ever read something you’ve read many times before and suddenly seen it in a way you never have before?
It happened to me the other day when I was searching for Ephesians 5:2 in my old 1984 NIV Bible. As I searched for it my eyes strayed to the previous verse:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love … (Eph 5:1-2).
Immediately two images came into my mind. First, a small child wearing a pink tulle skirt and her mother’s high-heeled shoes, and then another child with furrowed brow, carefully directing his plastic lawnmower to follow behind his father as he mows the lawn.
My first instinct was to dismiss them. They seemed inappropriate somehow and (oh, dear) so politically incorrect! But then I realised they were true images, because they happen all the time. When you are young, imitating others is as natural as breathing.
Some people say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but for the young, imitation is simply sincerity. They do not understand flattery.
They lack guile and sophistication, and want nothing more than to identify with someone important in their world.
Children imitate their parents not only because they want to be like them—they want to be connected to them too. For a child, imitation is an authentic expression of love.
Do I love God that way? Do I imitate my heavenly Father by living a life of love, safe in the knowledge that I am dearly loved by him?
Child of God
It’s a simple idea. But if I’m honest, my attempts at following his example are more likely to resemble the child teetering precariously in high heels and the other mowing grass with an ineffectual toy.
What a relief it is then to remember that I am a child of God. There’s much I have yet to learn. There are many mistakes I have yet to make. But I have a loving Father to imitate—with his enabling—and I can rest peacefully in the knowledge that I am dearly loved by him, because of Jesus.
Here’s the whole of Ephesians 5:1-2, in the JB Phillips translation:
As children copy their fathers you, as God’s children, are to copy him. Live your lives in love—the same sort of love which Christ gives us and which he perfectly expressed when he gave himself up for us in sacrifice to God.
Featured image: Photo by Laurie Heath | Lightstock.com