Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! That’s how the old saying goes. Maybe we should say: Imitation is the sincerest form of worship. Does that cause questions? We should note a couple of things before we start asking too many questions.
The Imitation Challenge
First, Jesus was perfect. He lived perfectly and perfectly executed His Father’s will in all of His ministry. Second, Jesus said on multiple occasions that He did nothing on His own. He was here to imitate His Father. Notice, Jesus said
I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught Me.
And He also said:
I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
See these references to similar statements in John’s Gospel:
- John 8:28; 38
- John 12:49-50
- and John 14:10
Third, we need to understand that imitating God is worship. We become like the object of our worship. Psalm 115 and Psalm 135 make the same observation regarding worship of idols: Those who make them will become like them and so will all who trust in them.
Instruction On Imitation
Furthermore, we are instructed in Ephesians five one to be imitators of God as dear children.
Now, with all of that in mind, let me ask you: If Jesus’ goal was, Doing what He saw the Father do, and saying what He heard the Father say, should that not be our goal?
It’s easy to state the obvious answer. And that’s where the imitation challenge comes in.
Notice what follows Ephesians 5:1 –
And walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
To walk in the way of love is synonomous with sacrifice. We can see that in the compassion of Jesus’ ministry. A word search on compassion will show the times Scripture says Jesus was moved with compassion.
He had a compassionate love for people. Many did not respond favorably. But His compassion for them was not meant to get a specific response. He was loving and compassionate because they were there. Jesus loved others because it was His nature to do so. Therefore, so should we!
Christians are often guilty of “loving” unbelievers as a means to win them over. If it’s real, that’s great. But here is a little test:
Do we keep loving them when they have rejected the Gospel?
Jesus loved them even as they placed thorns on His head! That is sacrificial love. Now, apply compassionate, sacrificial love to those who have already accepted Him: We are talking about the folks at your church!
Do we imitate His compassionate, sacrificial love for the family of God? I mean all the family? Is it easier to love selected ones of my Christian brothers and sisters?
If so, the Word says we have not surpassed the love of pagans for even they love those who love them. Christ-like love for one another is supposed to be a noticeable, marking trait of our faith. That’s the message of 1 Peter 1:22 –
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.
The version I cited says fervently love one another. The King James Version of that verse calls us to unfeigned love. Whichever way we say it, the more we practice it the more effective we will be!
Take Up The Challenge
Here’s the challenge: Pick out just one of those brothers or sisters that it may be challenging to sincerely and fervently love. Ask the Father to help you imitate His love for them. Keep asking Him. Commit yourself to the task. Pray for them and pray for yourself. Why would I challenge us this way?
We can pray for this and know it is God’s will. That’s important because:
If we ask anything according to His will He will grant it.
We already know this is how He wants us to live. But is that what we want? Can you imagine how different modern churches and ministries would look if we pursued loving one another like this? Why is it important? Jesus said:
The world will know you’re My disciples if you have love for one another.
Things can change. It can start with me, or you, or us.