Each year the Holy Spirit leads me to a verse of Scripture to focus on. Usually I will write a bit on it as led, blog it, and possibly use it as a fb status. For this year I didn’t get the verse until Dec. 30, 2014. While writing, more thoughts kept being planted so as it ended it may appear to be more like a book than a blog.
I apologize for that, ( well, not really since I believe it is Holy Spirit led.) If anyone reads this 2015 edition, Be Blessed.
A Christ Follower—An Imitator Of God
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. Eph. 5:1
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph. 5:2
As I read these verses for the umpteenth time in my life, it caught my attention in a new way, and resonated in my spirit that it needed more than words and thoughts put to it. It needs action and lifestyle.
So..what does it mean to be an imitator of God, as a beloved child. We probably do the best by looking at Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God, and is the Son of God, so we can imitate God as we also are sons of God.
There are two passages below where God the Father calls Jesus His Beloved Son.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17 ESV)
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only. (Mark 9:2-8 ESV)
We are children of God, we are adopted children, chosen by God to be His children. As Paul, inspired by Holy Spirit wrote, we as Christ Followers are also called “beloved children”. So, since we are beloved children, following Jesus Christ the Beloved Son, we should be striving to be similar to Jesus, an imitator if you will.
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4-7 NIV)
How does one imitate Jesus Christ, the One who was the God man, 100% God and 100% man, who came to earth and lived among regular humans whom He had created?
Jesus led a lifestyle that was pleasing to His Father, so we can look at various Scripture passages, see what Jesus did, and with the help, power and guidance of Holy Spirit attempt to follow His ways.
Even though Jesus is God, He spent many hours in prayer talking to His Heavenly Father.
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12 NIV)
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35 NIV)
And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:46 ESV)
And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. (Mark 14:39 ESV)
It seems that Jesus was always going to pray. How often do I (we) do that. At decision making times it can be seen that Jesus was praying.
Every decision that comes up in life should be prayed over, but I must confess at times I look to past experiences, other’s experiences or what may appear right in society, before acting, rather than praying about it. Prayer is to be a daily, continual part of a Christ Follower’s life, and not just an emergency plan when desperation sets in because we can’t figure things out.
Jesus came to earth knowing He was going to die, knowing that His purpose in coming was to die in place of man for sins.
“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. (John 12:27-33 NIV)
Even though Jesus knew He came to earth to die, He called out to His Father in prayer to see if there could possibly be another way for mankind to be saved from eternal death and damnation. Jesus prayed, but He was also willing to agree and be obedient to the will of His Father.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42 NIV)
When things come into our lives or against us that are not favourable, there is nothing wrong with praying and asking God to change the situation or remove the problem. BUT, we need to be prepared for things not to change if that is the will of God.
Serving was an important facet of Jesus’ ministry. Therefore, if we are going to be an imitator of Jesus, we need a mindset of serving others rather than thinking we should be served, regardless of our station in life.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5 NIV)
There was nothing that was too low or humiliating for Jesus to do for others. It was the lowest servant who had the responsibility of washing the feet of guests when they entered a room, but at the time of the ‘last supper’ when no one else volunteered, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, got up and washed each apostle’s feet, even the feet of Judas whom Jesus knew would betray Him, and Peter whom Jesus knew would deny Him three times to protect himself. What would I have done, I wonder?
“I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.” (Mark 8:2-3 NIV)
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” (Luke 7:13 ESV)
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1-3 ESV)
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36 ESV)
Our Lord Jesus always looked upon people with compassion. Whether the crowds were hungry, grieving, harassed, helpless or suffering in some other way, Jesus cared for them and met a need.
How often do we just listen when someone is pouring out their heart, but we don’t really hear what they are saying, or we don’t hear what they are ‘not saying’ because we don’t pay attention to body language, or our thoughts are someplace distant?
Do we notice if a person is hungry, and provide a meal or food of some kind if possible? Sometimes a fast food place or coffee shop is ideal and plenty for a hungry stomach. To the person who is able to eat for the first time in a day possibly, that is a miracle as great as the bread and fishes miracle performed by Jesus on two recorded occasions.
What are our thoughts about, or comments to a man or lady on the sidewalk or at an intersection asking for loose change for something to eat? What is the first thing that enters our mind? Is it that possibly the person has no family connection, has a mental, emotional or physical challenge and is unable to work or do anything for an extended period of time? Perhaps the person left an abusive situation, believing that being on the street begging was safer than staying where they were. How about a thought that with the economic downturn a good job was lost, all savings depleted, house foreclosed, or due to inability to pay rent an eviction notice was received?
What would our compassionate Saviour do in those cases? At one point we were all lost in life, in sin. Jesus saw us and came alongside, talked with us through others, by His Spirit, or possibly from His Written Word the Bible. He fed us with Love, Spiritually, and according to our needs as He knew them. Jesus did not turn and walk away from us because we were dirty or unlike Him, He called us to Himself, met our needs, and then said “go and do likewise”.
When Jesus walked on earth, although He was God, He lived in a humble manner,looking out for others, and in humility He was obedient to His Father to the point of being crucified, which was the most degrading form of death. No one, regardless of position or social status, is in a higher elevation than others due to what they have. All persons are to be respected, and of course some people do have an office in life that does demand a greater degree of respect, but should not be bragged about, nor have self pride to put others down.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.(Philippians 2:3-8 ESV)
Fulfill God’s Will
The Father gives me the people who are mine. Every one of them will come to me, and I will always accept them. I came down from heaven to do what God wants me to do, not what I want to do. Here is what the One who sent me wants me to do: I must not lose even one whom God gave me, but I must raise them all on the last day. Those who see the Son and believe in him have eternal life, and I will raise them on the last day. This is what my Father wants.” (John 6:37-40 NCV)
Jesus declared that His purpose in coming to earth was to do the will of His Father. It seems to me that we are an extension for the plan of God. The plan of God is for people to know Jesus as Saviour. Since we have daily contact with a variety of persons, we are in a position to share the Love of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of salvation. As individuals, with our own personalities, the Holy Spirit will lead us in word and actions, IF we listen and obey. We cannot, and should not compare ourselves with others, but seek the way of the Holy Spirit to use the gifts and talents He has given each of us to fulfill God’s purpose in and through us.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7 ESV)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16 ESV)
It is our Lord Jesus who has demonstrated to the world what real, true love is. Jesus left the Glories of Heaven to come to planet earth to die in place of each of us, for our sin. Our Heavenly Father showed love by having His Son come to earth to pay the price for our sin that we are unable to pay.
The above passage from John 13 follows the time frame of the last supper and the foot washing of the apostles by Jesus. Jesus served His apostles by washing their feet, and demonstrated love.
As Jesus laid His life down for us, showing love, we can lay our life down for others. This does not necessarily mean literally having our physical body die. It may, but it also may mean we step out of our comfort zone to do something which may normally cause embarrassment, so we can die to our pride or ego. If this is something that will benefit another, it will be showing love as Jesus did.
There are three certainties I can point out now.
The Holy Spirit will, and is, speaking to every Christ Follower about being an imitator of God and will direct and empower us.
Even as we desire to be an imitator of God we will slip and sin at times.
The Holy Spirit will then call us again, Jesus will forgive us when asked, and Holy Spirit will again direct and empower us.
Going forward in 2015 as an imitator of God will be life changing, and a blessing,
God’s Blessings as we go forward together.
Encourage one another as we, and the year progress.