I am not a Star Wars fan. I have only seen two and half of the six films and if I never saw another episode I would be quite content. My children, however, love Star Wars. In our house, everything from carrot sticks to rulers are light sabers. My husband is the one to blame for their Star Wars obsession simply because he enjoys it. Because he likes it, the kids like it. This is true of Star Wars, Oreos, music, and so much more. They love their Daddy and therefore, they love the things that he loves because they want to be just like him. They are imitators of him.
The relationship my kids have with their Daddy helps me to better grasp Ephesians 5:1: "Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children." Just as my kids respond to their Daddy's love by delighting in him and wanting to be just like him, Christians should respond the same way to our Heavenly Father. As the redeemed children of God, we should seek to imitate our Father because of the great love that our Father bestowed upon us.
Just as my kids respond to their Daddy's love by delighting in him and wanting to be just like him, Christians should respond the same way to our Heavenly Father.
The Love of the Father
But, we were not always children of God—we once were enemies. We were once "separated from Christ...having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). But, on no merit of our own, God saves us. "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The love of the Father is most clearly displayed on the cross.
Because of the cross, believers are now beloved children of God: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). On the cross, the work is finished, our status is secure. Now we have only to respond to his love.
Our response to this abounding love is worship. Worship of the God who redeems, awe of the Savior who justifies, and gratitude for the Spirit continuing the saving work of Christ in our hearts. As we worship in "reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28) of the Father, imitation will follow.
Imitating the Father
We will start to love the things the father loves and hate the things the father hates. Godliness will be desirable and sin distasteful. Our love of self will be transformed to a deep love for God and a desire for him to receive the glory. We will do good works, not because we are trying to earn his love but because of his great love for us.
I see this with my kids. They don't imitate their Daddy because they are trying to earn favor with him. They imitate their Daddy because they love him. God in his goodness, through this precious relationship between my kids and their Daddy, has blessed me with a glimpse of what God's love for us looks like and what our response should be. But, there is one big difference between the imitation of their earthly father and our imitation of God: my husband is a sinner, God is not. My kids imitate their Daddy in everything, including the bad. My husband hates most vegetables; therefore, it is also a battle to get my kids to eat them. My husband (and myself as well) loses his temper, my kids also do the same. This flawed example demonstrates not only our need for a better example, a perfect example, but also our utter dependence on Christ to save us.
Because he has saved us, we have become "partakers in the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Through the power of the Holy Spirit our hearts are transformed to be more like Christ. This process is called sanctification. We're still sinners, but the Holy Spirit works often in spite of us, convicting us of our sin, bringing us to repentance, and producing further worship as our eyes are opened to the boundless extent of what we have been rescued from. The cycle continues as the more we love the Father, the more we become imitators of him.