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Faithful Words

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By Dr. Kenneth Faught

FAITHFUL WORDS

 

Whom do you mimic?

 

“Therefore be imitators of God, as dear children” (See Ephesians 5:1-17).

The word “imitate” (5:1) literally means “to mimic.”

Children mimic their parents. Youth mimic their peers, adults mimic neighbors and colleagues. Christians are to mimic or imitate God! Thomas ‘a Kempis’ great devotional writing was called “The Imitation of Christ.” St. Francis of Assisi’s rule was to “walk in the footsteps of Jesus.”

We are to imitate God by walking in love (1-2). Christian love is patterned after the example of Jesus. Earlier Paul reminds us that Christian love is forgiving (4:32). We are to “let go” of the things that offend us. Do you ever find yourself holding grudges? A modern proverb calls us to “build a bridge and get over it!” Church people often sing “They Will Know We are Christians by Our Love” – but do they? Can others see our love for Jesus, our love for each other, and our love for the world? Do they know we are Christians by our love, or are they surprised to find out?

We are also to imitate God by walking in purity (3-12). This means avoiding sin. Paul offers a brief list of sins to be avoided: fornication, uncleanness, filthiness, covetousness, and sins of the tongue.

All are sins of the heart. Charles Koller preached a sermon called “Slightly Soiled, Greatly Reduced in Price.” The Christian who flirts with sin is compromising “value” in terms of how the world perceived our faith. Don’t trifle with sin! Paul also admonished us to be careful of the company we keep. Our behavior seldom (if ever) rises above the level of our closest friends. Jesus demonstrated the divine grace of being “in the world” but not “of the world.”

We are to imitate God by walking in light (13-17). Light is a major theme in the Bible. Jesus said, “Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” He also said, “I am the Light of the world.”  The Christian faith is a great “leap into the light”, and a saint is one who walks in the light.

Finally, Paul says we are to walk “circumspectly” (15), that is, “look all around” in order to make good use of our time and to discern the Lord’s will for our lives. To imitate God is to walk in love, purity and light. Whom do you mimic?

 

Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.