I’ve been writing this week about things that I have because I am a child of God. Our study text today reminds me that as God’s child, I have an example!
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Whenever I am in an unfamiliar setting, I love to be with someone who is accustomed to the situation. Someone who knows what to do and say and what not to do and say. When I visit a new church to preach or share in some way, I pay attention to the people of that church and how they do things. I watch them. I study them. I learn from them so that I can reduce my uncomfortableness and limit my embarrassment. They become my example. I follow their steps, their gestures, their words, their responses. I become what I need to be because someone models it for me.
The Christian life should be like that. Paul writes in his letters that people should imitate him as he imitates Christ. That whatever people hear from him, whatever they observe or learn or receive from him, they should put into practice. Paul understood the value of an example in living the Christian life. In the verses above, he commands us as children of God to imitate our Father. We have a perfect example of love that is seen in our Father, therefore we need to walk in the way of love. This example of God, seen through Jesus, is one of giving and sacrificing our self for the benefit of someone else.
As God’s child, I have an example to follow. The more closely I follow it, the more I look like I belong to my father. I have a number of tendencies that people from my hometown recognize and immediately say, “You’re a child of your father.” They know where I belong — what family I fit into because in many areas I follow the example of my father. The bigger question when people observe me is, “Do they recognize I belong to the family of God?” Am I walking in the way of love in a manner that resembles the example of my Father?
As a child of God, you have an example. Are you following it? Can people see the family resemblance when they watch you? I pray that you and I will “walk in the way of love” as we faithfully follow the example of our Father.