Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Ephesians 5, Paul says, “Imitate God, as dearly loved children” (Eph 5:1). Imitate God? Mimic him? Maybe?
Oscar Wilde said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Sounds like me, using my mediocrity to imitate God’s love and forgiveness. I doubt my feeble imitations flatter God.
Less cynically, and closer to Paul’s point, George Bernard Shaw said, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery . . . it’s the sincerest form of learning.”
I like that. I learn about forgiveness when I try to forgive others. I learn about healing when I try to restore broken relationships. I learn about holiness when I try to step away from obscenity, foolish talk, greed, and immorality (Eph 5:3-5).
In the last 1,500 years, the most popular and widely used devotional book is The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. Listen to how he begins:
He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, says the Lord. These . . . words . . . teach us how far we must imitate His life and character, if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from . . . blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ.Thomas a Kempis
Yes. To Thomas a Kempis, following Jesus is to imitate his life and character.
And when CS Lewis was on his unintended journey toward Christianity, he discovered he needed to move beyond mere philosophy. He said there was “something to be neither more nor less nor other than done. An attempt at complete virtue must be made.” Though he had yet to believe in God or Christ, he began his imitation of God as an attempt at virtue.
He continues, “For the first time I examined myself with a serious practical purpose. And there I found what appalled me; a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a hareem of fond hatreds. My name was legion.” (CS Lewis, Surprised by Joy, Chapter XIV: Checkmate”).
Or, as Paul says in Ephesians 5, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or impurity, or greed” (v. 3).
It was a long road ahead for CS Lewis. It’s a long road ahead for us.
Our father, we want to become holy and loving and forgiving like you. Give us grace to shun the evil that clings to us—resentment, envy, sexual obsessions. Give us grace to imitate you in holy thoughts, in loving speech, and in gracious living.
Supervise and guide us so we may soon grow to be like you. May we not “fake it till we make it”, but may we grow in the new life you gave us.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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