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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Of Imitators and Imitations . . .

Ephesians 5:1-20    Ezekiel 14-15    Isaiah 44

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). The apostle’s instruction is both practical and audacious: Be imitators of God. How are we to understand this? And how does it look in practice? Well. The “therefore” provides guidance, by linking this word to that which precedes it (see yesterday’s reflection on modeling life after the God of “with” and “through”). And then there is this: When we consider the day’s companion readings from the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, asking the question of connections, one clear link emerges. Do you see it? All three texts speak of the dangers of  idolatry (Isaiah 44:9ff; Ezekiel 14; Ephesians 5:5). What might we learn about being “imitators of God” from the warnings concerning “Idolaters?”

“Mortal, these men have taken their idols into their hearts” (Ezekiel 14:3). So speaks the Lord to Ezekiel. And through Isaiah, God ridicules idolatry as a cheap and deceptive imitation, rendering people incapable of seeing it for the fraud it is (Isaiah 44:20). And it all seems so antiquated to us . . . But then Paul steps up and equates it with greed (Ephesians 5:5). Fornication, impurity, and greed. Peterson translates, “using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them.” This is, says Paul, idolatry. And it is a very, very contemporary heart condition, is it not? And it is the polar opposite of God and the imitation of God . . .

“Live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). A life lived as an offering and sacrifice to God. This, in contrast to greed (v.3), is the difference between imitating God and the imitation life of an idolater. The question before each of us this day is this: Am I an imitator of God? Or an idolater? Is my heart given to God? Or have I taken idols into my heart? And what better season is there than this for discerning the answer? May we live in love, as Christ loved us. May our hearts be given to God and not greed. And may we, rejecting all cheap imitations, be imitators of God, as beloved children. Amen.

“Be careful then how you live,
not as unwise people but as wise,
making the most of the time,
because the days are evil.”

— Ephesians 5:15

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