Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV).
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
Children are expert mimickers. They imitate everything they see and hear. As a parent, this can be devastatingly precise. When I was very pregnant with my third, my middle child, Matthias, stuck his belly out and waddled around the kitchen one day. He was not yet 2 years old. He laughed hysterically and looked at me. At this point, my husband and I realized that he was making a joke by mimicking my pregnancy waddle. A few days ago, my baby girl, now nearly 1 year old, mimicked me saying “sorry” to her. She mimicked the tone and lilt in my voice, and it really sounded like “sorry.” Their ability to imitate is natural and automatic from learning to speak to learning to walk to learning to eat.
We too, are natural imitators of our Heavenly Father. When we are made beloved children through our Baptisms, we too are made natural imitators. It is automatic to mimic the love of the Father through the Son. According to our Baptisms, we are made anew to naturally imitate all that our Savior has put before us: humility and love; sacrifice and service; fear of the Lord and trust in Him. As 100% saint, we imitate our heavenly Father and walk in love.
However, as inheritors of original sin and sinful to the core, my children and I most naturally and easily imitate that which is not good. They imitate my faults. I imitate the world. My sinful flesh rules and reigns more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve joked with the foul-mouthed, or at the very least stood by and let the jokes run on without correction. I’ve let a swear word (or 10 or 20) come out of my mouth and out of my heart. We have all lived as those who do not walk in love, but rather in imitation of that which is flippant, mocking, less than above-board, and even downright evil. As 100% sinner, this is also our constant reality — we imitate the wrong things; we fail to imitate the One who loved us and laid down His life for us.
But there is One who lived in perfect imitation of the perfect and loving heavenly Father. He walked in perfect love toward all people. He gave Himself as the perfect sacrifice to God on our behalf, for all the wrong things we’ve imitated, all the vile things we have done. He brings us into that perfect life and teaches us to imitate love, grace, self-sacrifice, gentleness and self-control. Even as we live imperfectly in the struggle between the sinner who imitates that which is not of God and the saint who imitates all that is of God, Christ comes to us to forgive and renew, kill and raise up, teach and lead us. He brings us back to font and pulpit and altar to give us that which we need to live as imitators of Him, walking in love toward God and toward our neighbor.
Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, help us as dearly beloved children to imitate You and Your Son in all things so that we may walk in love in serving our neighbors and proclaiming to them the riches of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.