This is a guest post from Temitayo Adebisi Adekunle, a Nigerian-born microbiologist.
Look at the beginning of verse 1: “Therefore be imitators of God.”
The goal of the Christian life is perfect imitation of God. The apostle John said that one day, “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” So, really, the whole of the Christian life is summed up right here: be imitators of God.
What are we doing when we imitate God? We’re trying to become the greatest good in existence. God is the perfect person. He’s full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And God made us to imitate.
Go back to the very beginning. When God created us, he said, “Let us make man in our image.” In the law he said, “Be holy as I am holy.” Jesus said, “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” So when we imitate God, we’re doing what we’re designed to do, we’re imaging God, being holy as he is holy, pursuing perfection. The fact that we have and will continue to fail is no excuse out of this command. It’s all the more reason we need it. God continually calls us to himself, showing and giving the holiness we need.
At the most basic level, to imitate God means to mimic him. How do we mimic someone? We watch them. We pay close attention to them. And then we do what they do. every Christian has the ability to imitate God. We were made to be like God, and God came down in Christ to show us the way. He gave and preserved the Bible where we see his work and wisdom. He sent his Spirit to dwell within. Your Divine Coach gives everything you need to live the full Christian life. You can imitate God.
Walk in love Look at the beginning of verse 2: “And walk in love.”
The point Paul’s making is love shouldn’t be something short lived and occasional, like sprinting. It should be natural and consistent, like walking. Anyone can love once, but can you love constantly? That’s the question.
“What kind of love,” you might ask? Well, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a famous passage used at weddings, but Paul didn’t write it for weddings. He wrote it for the church.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
That’s the kind of love Paul’s talking about. So, how are you doing? Does love define your life? Paul says it should. And he doesn’t say only super-Christians should live this way. He presents this as ordinary Christianity. The unmistakable sign of Christianity is a life of walking in love. This is not optional for the Christian. Jesus himself said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
For most of us, walking is a natural part of life. But it wasn’t always so. When you were a baby, you couldn’t roll off the couch and walk around the block. You had to be picked up, placed in a stroller, and pushed around by someone else. But now you can walk. And you learned by imitating others. You held the hand of your parents. You were picked up when you fell down.
So what do you need if love isn’t the way you walk? [Emphasis mine, because I needed to hear it. —Luke] You need to realize you’re a baby who needs help. You need Christ. You need him to come and pick you up, put you in his stroller, and take you for a walk. He’ll show you what love looks like. He’ll take away your excuses and give you reasons.
And that’s why Paul includes two reasons at the end of each command. He’s showing the gospel doctrine upholding the gospel culture.
I hope that you enjoyed Temitayo’s thoughts as much as I did—she definitely worded things better than I probably ever will. Love has NOT been easy for me, and I needed to hear what she said, in the way she said it. In the past, I’ve never been open to loving until I’ve lost someone. But I’m growing, and I desire to imitate people like Temitayo. I’ll learn to walk, and even run, in love.