by winston davenport, march 27 2014
Paul flirts with most Christians' notions of blasphemy while writing to the Ephesians. He says, "Be imitators of God, just as earthly children imitate their fathers."
Imitating God? That sounds crazy, right? Perhaps it is. But it is possible. God instructs us to imitate Him because He knows that we can. Imitating God will be an impossible feat if you are caught up in your earthly imperfection, thinking of yourself as fallen man, or a sinner.
But remember: God made you in His image and likeness. He made you to be like Him—to think how He thinks, talk how He talks, and acts how He acts.
Paul explains exactly how we are supposed to imitate God. Not through effort. Not through striving. Not through modeling a personality. We are to become imitators of God in the same way little boys end up imitating their fathers. They don't try to do it. They don't carefully study behavior and then try their best to emulate it. This is not a What-Would-Jesus-Do situation. A child cannot help but imitate his father, because especially in our developmental stages of life, we always become what we behold.
The Greek word Paul uses here for the word "imitate" means "to take on the image of."
I used to drive my sisters crazy by "imitating" them, mocking them, repeating what they were saying. This is not the understanding Paul meant us to have.
Think of a chameleon. This fascinating creature is skilled at "taking on the image of" its surroundings. A chameleon is an excellent imitator, in the sense that Paul utilized the word. A chameleon assimilates the identity of whatever it spends the most time around. If you spend time with God, you will begin to look like Him. You can't help it.
Furthermore, spending time with God doesn't just mean reading the Bible, going to church, and doing daily devotionals. If you are a Christian, you can't possibly spend more time with God than you already are, because the "fullness of the Godhead [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) dwells in you" right now! You have the nature of Christ Jesus, and you no longer life, because Jesus lives in you! You are already surrounded by and fully indwelt by the presence of God. It is in your nature to demonstrate His character and personality. And this is perfect alignment—this is the Kingdom.
Remove from your mind the notion that you cannot be a successful imitator of God. The first step toward living in this wonderful reality is to accept the possibility. Then, believe. You will automatically emulate the individuals you admire. So dwell on God, and think to yourself, I can do that!
And if you suspect that it might be prideful to want to be like God, remember, He's the One who made you "in His likeness." The desire to be like your heavenly Father was given to you by Him in the first place! To resist that desire is prideful. To embrace it is humility.
After a while you'll begin to see His nature creeping through your personality. You'll do things and say things and think thoughts that will astound you. You'll say, That wasn't like me! Normally I'd get so upset about that! But it's change, coming straight from the Spirit inside you, transforming you from the inside out. That way you don't have to try and curb your behavior through external rules and regulations. Change won't come just because you want it bad enough, or try hard enough. No, it will be natural change. It won't involve your willpower, but your nature. When Jesus commanded holiness, He wasn't talking about changing your behavior, He was talking about changing your nature.
Inward transformation always leads to external change. This is the only change that is authentic, the only change that lasts. So think about God. Align with Him. Feel gratitude for all the wonderful aspects of Himself that make Him who He is. And you'll automatically see yourslef following in His footsteps, in the same way Jesus did as He walked the earth two thousand years ago.
A final note: Whenever I have taught this message, I'm inevitably confronted by someone who says that this was the original deception of the devil, trying to convince man that he could be like God. This perspective is based on what the serpent said in the Garden: "If you eat this fruit, you will surely be like God." First of all, it's important to remember the the devil is a liar and "the father of lies." To quote Satan as part of your argument is simply stupid. The original lie wasn't that if Adam ate the fruit he would be like God; the lie was actually that Adam wasn't already like God. The serpent convinced Adam that God was withholding something that Adam already possessed. This is at the root of every lie of Satan, from then till now. If the Liar can convince you that you are lacking something, that you don't already have it all, that Jesus's work wasn't actually complete, then he can convince you into powerlessness. He can extinguish your light through this deception. No, friends, Adam was made exactly like God, and the fruit didn't make Adam like God, it shoved a wedge between God and man—a wedge that existed solely in Adam's mind. Man forgot that he was like God, and Jesus came to restore that revelation, not only that we are like God, but that we are "partakers of the divine nature." We are just as much God as Jesus is, for our natures have been fused with the nature of the Father through the blood of Christ.
Satan's attempts are not to convince us that we are like God. Satan's strategy is to convince us that we are not like G
by winston davenport, march 27 2014