"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." NIV
"Imitate" and "love" -- sounds easy enough. Since I was a little girl, I've loved to mimic. Once when I was about ten, I pretended I was Ginger Grant from Gilligan's Island. I pursed my lips like her and spoke in a sultry voice. My mom really burst my bubble when she said, "Honey, you ain't ever going to be sexy." She wasn't trying to be mean; after all, I was a freckle-faced tomboy. But I'd act in character every chance I'd get. Still love to act and pretend to be someone else. So I think I've got this imitate thing down.
And love, how hard is that? I love my husband, and my kids, and my friends. I love to read; I love dark chocolate; I love Sunday afternoon naps. That's not so tough, right?
But then this verse throws in some qualifiers that change the entire picture. First, I am to imitate God! You might as well say I should grow two heads and five feet. It just ain't gonna happen.... But wait, it didn't say that I am to be exactly like God and incorporate ALL his attributes. I am to imitate Him; not the real thing but a likeness of God. I love that it says, "as dearly loved children." Just as we hope that our children will follow the examples we are for them, so God, who loves us more than we love ourselves, wants us to follow in His "footsteps." We have a big parent to live up to, but we also can't choose any better hero to imitate. Can't get any higher than the Almighty Creator of the Universe. And the cool part is, we already have His Spirit living within us. We just have to surrender to it and "put on the new self" that is like Him.
Then that love thing. I'm guessing it's not talking about my dark chocolate. Christ's love was completely sacrificial. Not only did He provide through His love a way of salvation for me, but also demonstrated how I am to love -- with all my being. And in this way, my life can become a "fragrant offering" to my Father.
When my kids were babies, I LOVED smelling their little heads. There is just nothing sweeter than the smell of a baby's head. (In fact, I still love to smell their heads. They think I'm weird.) But I imagine that when I show love -- truly show love -- to my fellow man, it pleases my Father so much that He leans down and breathes in deeply from the top of my head, relishing the sweet fragrance of His child.
Father, teach me how to live like you, imitating your every move. And fill my entire being with Your love so I can share the love of Christ with others through my actions and words. I need more of You, Lord.
- How is the Jesus/Disciples' relationship an example to us as to how we are to live our lives? Give examples from Scripture.
- Does it hurt the Father when we choose to act contrary to His character? Support your answer with Scripture.
- What does the Old Testament say about fragrant offerings and what God thinks of them? How do they correlate to the way we live our life now?
- Is it possible for us to love like Christ? How? Support with Scripture.
- Spend some time looking into the "mirror" of your life. Where are you imitating God well, and where does there need to be more "putting on" happening?