Ephesians 5:1-2. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Do you have any idea how loved you are by God? It’s a hard reality to grasp isn’t it? Perfectly loved all the time. No more, no less. No matter what. For better or worse. Without end and without condition. Loved in spite of how well we perform. Loved through every mountain high and every valley deep. It sounds too good to be true.
But it’s not.
How do we know for sure that God loves us? Look at our verses again. We know God loves us because Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for us. On top of that, he made us his beloved children. Oh what love is this? Love that would choose to die sacrificially, but then also choose to live sacrificially uniting his life to ours forever. Rescue AND redemption. Atonement AND adoption. This is the love of God for us.
Now go out there and imitate God and walk in this love.
Woah. That sure sounds daunting. How do we do that?
Our instinct might be to turn this into another law. Another standard that we have to live up to. Another ladder to climb. Imitate God’s love becomes a guilt trip rather than a glorious grace. And when we fail to see it as grace, it will drive us either toward despair or toward pride.
- Despair: “Imitate God? Who can do that? I don’t love like God. Oh no, I’m in trouble.”
- Pride: “Imitate God? I got this. I will work so hard at imitating God and be the best at it.”
But the command to imitate God’s love is not to be accomplished from law, it’s to be accomplished from union with Christ. Christ is our sacrifice, our offering to God on our behalf. What does that mean? It means no more law keeping. No more ladder to climb. No more performance to be judged. It is finished. He did it. He imitated God. He loved. He walked. For us. Imitating God and walking in his love is no longer a standard to maintain. Like Abraham walking in the promised land, it is our new covenant promise to claim.
Christian, you are God’s beloved child. That’s the promise. Claim it. What little kid doesn’t try to be like their mom or dad? Holding their hand in the parking lot. Dressing up like them. Copying the way that they talk, and eat, play, and work. Child-like imitation is a natural part of life. We watch what mom or dad do, and then we copy it.
And here is the love of God that we are copying – and gave himself up for us.
The love of God that we are imitating, that we are walking in, is the love of the cross. The love of self-sacrifice. Of self-giving. For the good of others. For the salvation of others. As our Savior taught us, this is not the love of the “pagans” who love only those who will love them back. This is loving an enemy even. Good Samaritan love. Love as a living sacrifice. This kind of cruciform love that is a fragrant offering to God.
“To live is Christ” means you are loved more dearly and deeply than you could ever imagine. Now, in Christ, you have nothing to lose and nothing to gain. By faith you’ve received the sacrificial love of Christ, now by faith you can walk in that same love. And that fragrant offering smells good to God.
Do you feel the love of God in your life?
You in Christ
How can you know that you are loved today?
Christ in you
How might walking in love make your day look different today?
Playlist: Walk in Love.
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