Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
Before proceeding to discuss the transformed Christian life, Paul touches on a central dynamic of this life.
Christians are called to be “dearly loved children” of God (Ephesians 5:1). Those who receive Jesus as their Saviour and Lord by believing in Him become God’s children (John 1:12). To be a child of God is to be born of the Spirit—that is, to be regenerated by God’s Spirit into becoming a new person in God’s Kingdom and a member of God’s family (John 3:5).
If we are God’s children, then we will have a family resemblance. We will look like the Son of God who is the perfect image of the Father (John 14:9). God has called us and “predestined (us) to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29) so that we will share the family resemblance and be like our heavenly Father—especially in character.
It is in this sense that we are called to “follow God’s example” (Ephesians 5:1). We are to be exact copies of Him in that we are to be perfect like our perfect heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48).
God’s perfection was seen in Christ, His only begotten Son. Jesus loved us fully with His self-sacrificial love. He “gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). There is no greater love than giving in self-sacrifice for others (John 15:13). Jesus, as our Good Shepherd, laid down His life for us (John 10:11). The Father sacrificed His only Son so that we may be saved (John 3:16). Every time we look at the cross, we see how much the Father and Son loved us.
Paul emphasises that we must now “live a life of love, just as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2). Our lives must be characterised by that same self-giving love that we received from God. We do this by imitating Christ.
There is, however, a difference between imitation and mimicry. Circus animals can be trained to imitate human actions but only externally—this is mimicry. Imitation, on the other hand, copies not only external behaviour but also internal motivation. In this sense, only those who are truly born again, who have the Spirit of God in them, and whose eyes are constantly on Jesus, can imitate God.
Think about how churchgoers may try to mimic Christ without really having a relationship with Him. Why is it important for you to be a child of God before you can truly imitate God?
The quality of our love must be the same as that of Jesus—”As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). What are the implications of this in your life?