Who do you imitate?
ROSCOMMON, MI – Greetings from Bambi Lake! We are well into our new year of retreats and camps and thus far it has been amazing! We are looking forward to a spectacular year. For the February article I was asked to write about “love”. This is a somewhat daunting task because I don’t want to just write something cliche’ or mawkish, so here goes.
It is no secret that “self-love” is the sin problem of our culture. It is and always has been since Adam and Eve were relieved of their garden duties. The unfortunate news is I believe “self-love” is the number one sin problem in the church. Now, when I say church I am pinpointing those of us who claim to “love” Jesus, and have a personal relationship with Him. We of all people should understand and do our best to avoid the destructiveness of “self-love”.
When the divorce rate inside the church is as high or higher than outside the church, there is a fundamental, core problem. The sin of “self-love” is poisoning our soul and making us spiritually weak and relationally detached from the “lover of our soul” - Jesus. Not only does “self-love” disable our ability to love God but it also handicaps our capacity to love others. The “others” being spouses, friends, enemies, neighbors. We love ourselves more than the heart of God.
“Love” is supposed to be the one quality that sets us apart from the lost world. It should be the singular attribute describing our lives. It should refine us and define us. Love is the aroma others should smell when they are around us. This lifestyle of “love” is possible. In 1 John 4:8 we are told “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love”.
Since God is Love then what the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus makes perfect sense. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
A lifestyle of “love” is possible when we - like children - choose to imitate our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus. The more we look to our Savior and discover Him in scripture the more we will be like Him. As our personal relationship with Him deepens so will our imitation of His character. As Christians, we are to imitate God’s character, actions and behavior towards us as a standard of how we treat others and live out the Christian life. When we imitate Christ, we become the truest, most real and authentic “us” because we become the person God intended us to be. The culture is continuously demanding our attention by deceiving us with promises of prosperity, power, self-confidence, success, promotion and recognition - “self-love”.
Christ calls us to be like Him - “Love” - to all those we encounter, even to those we would rather avoid. We the church, must look like Christ. We must look like “Love”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mick Schatz serves on the staff of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. He is the State Director of Spiritual Enrichment and Retreats and lives at Bambi Lake.