Imitating God…Our Loving Parent

Christ Community Church   -  

One of the great pastors and Bible-teaching voices of the 20th century for the church completed his earthly 89 year journey on Thursday, May 2, 2019. A memorial service is set for tomorrow (May 14) in Lincoln, Nebraska. 
His name was Warren W. Wiersbe.
Just before his 16th birthday, Warren heard a young Billy Graham speak at a Washington High School Youth-for-Christ rally in Chicago (1945). Though already “confirmed” in the Swedish Covenant Church, the Spirit of God convicted him of his need to personally trust Christ as Savior. That night set the direction of his life; it would be spent preaching the Gospel, pastoring God’s people, and teaching the Bible. Wiersbe’s life is worth remembering (Read the full obituary here).
Throughout years of pastoral work, Wiersbe developed into a prolific writer. His “BE —-“ Commentary series books help unlock Scripture’s meaning simply, practically. In comments on the letter to the Ephesians, Pastor Wiersbe speaks about the natural tendency of children to mimic parents.
The word followers in Ephesians 5:1 is the word mimics, so that the verse can be translated “Be imitators of God as beloved children.” 
Paul was simply arguing that children are like their parents, a fact that can be both encouraging and embarrassing to those of us who have children.
Have you ever seen a child sitting in the front seat of an automobile, trying to drive like his father? Or walking behind him, pretending to mow the lawn? Or, sad to say, imitating Dad smoking a cigarette…
Children probably learn more by watching and imitating than any other way (BE RICH, p.133).
Wiersbe is right, of course. Genetically, quite often physically, and in the expression of personality and habit, children mirror parents. 
My son is a police/peace officer in a large southwestern city. When a first child (Dylan) came along in his home, and began to navigate about as a young boy, he was all about uniforms and police vehicles. Even as children grow and “find their own way” into differing professions and interests, the basic characteristics of their biological parents undeniably emerge in and through them.
Family likenesses are like that. Traits naturally emerge, exhibit themselves.
There is basic, spiritual “biology” in the fact that each Christian has been birthed by God into God’s own family. Has this basic truth landed significantly in your thinking?
Peter writes that our Father-God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus schooled Nicodemus that one had to be “born from above” and “born of the Spirit” for any chance of seeing the Kingdom of God (John 3:1-8). Using birth language, James reminds us that “Of His own will He (the Father of lights) brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:18). Repeatedly, the Apostle John reminds us that when we believed in Christ we were “born of God” (1 John 5:1; cf. 4:7, 5:4).
As Wiersbe points out, “If we are children of God, then we ought to imitate our Father. This is the basis for 3 admonitions in [Ephesians 5]…”

God is love (1 John 4:8); therefore “walk in love” (Eph. 5:1-2)
God is light (1 John 1:5); therefore “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:3-14)
God is truth (1 John 5:6); therefore, “walk in wisdom” (Eph. 5:15-17)

Did you note that the first of these mimics is to be “agape” loving?
Living in a self-less way, “aware of what others around truly need. Being someone who chooses to give to meet that need…often at extra-mile effort and personal cost…without trumpets blowing or the camera’s rolling. Usually out of a response of spending time with God. Which leads to seeing a need and choosing, often sacrificially, to meet that need”  (cf. May 12, 2019 CCC Gather teaching).
I believe that all the appeals we receive—through advertising, media, Ted-Talks, magazine articles, unsolicited advice from others—can have the effect of lunging at “this” in one moment, and at “that” in another. Like going to an Ice Cream Shoppe that offers 31 flavors (or more), we can get caught up in an “flavor-du-jour” kind of living. Try this one day; try that another. And all of it driven mostly by what happens to come along.
But perhaps there’s a way to slow down, invest a few extra moments, and reflect on how Paul’s words in Ephesians actually ask us to get back to a few simple basics. Perhaps in so doing, we can chart a more simple, steady course. A growing habit of life.

Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love.
(Ephesians 5:1)  

Here are three ways to grow a habit of life. 
1) You’re a child of God
Actually born with His DNA, and dearly loved. There’s a new, living, spiritual person inside that God your Father has created (2 Corinthians 5:17). That means that over time, others who know you can see  who your parent is…God!
2) You learn to walk 
Gingerly at first, but each day up on your feet, you gain confidence in trekking around. Within a few short weeks, walking is what you do.
3) As God’s child, you and I can learn to “walk in love,” or (if you will, “walk in loving”)
Taking first steps in asking God’s Spirit to produce your Father’s love in you. Taking first steps in being aware of others around you, listening to what is going on in their lives. You may find yourself loving a colleague by praying for them…then caring for them…and perhaps in time even sharing with them what you’ve found in Christ.
What if this really began to happen? What if your kids saw you “walking” like this?
Would they too not want to become…like their loving parent?

Lead Pastor Update
Here are some other thoughts as finish May and head into the summer.
In a university town like ours, May is an exciting month. The annual, April Drake Relays (Des Moines) remind us that running well includes a strong finish. We “break the tape” on important races which have been the focus of our lives.
So CONGRATULATIONS to all who are wrapping up another important year of school and study, research and discovery, completion and next steps.  Praise God for your graduation and the exciting things God has for you in the future.
We are 3 weeks into our post-Easter family enrichment series on the “storm-strong family.”  If you’ve been listening in, by now you realize that we are not seeking to deal (so much) with correcting this symptom or that one. Rather we are focusing on basics, on setting foundation stones, upon which a family have the Lord build a home (Psalm 127) which can withstand the storms which can “burst against our house” (Cf. Matthew 7:24-25).
A Jesus/Gospel centered family. A family that delights in fearing the Lord. A family that loves well. 
You may be asking, “What do we do with these weekly teachings?” Answer: Have family conversations over what the Spirit is teaching us. Simply download and print off the latest messages from our website here in the Storm Strong Series or download the church app to watch on any device. Re-read them. Review with your spouse and kids some of the basic ideas. Pray over any simple applications. Talk about these things in the passageways of life (as suggested in Deuteronomy 6:4-8).
This  Sunday—Storm Strong Families Love Well (Part II). 
Christ Community’s Ministry Year typically begins in mid-summer and “breaks the finish line tape” in late May. True for our ministry planning cycles, and true for our financial health. 
Our fiscal year ends on May 31. Your generous stewardship in April 2019 helped erase almost half of this fiscal year’s deficit. This was fantastic!
My encouragement? For our ministry’s health, let’s lean in together in these final weeks in May. Our goal is to off the remaining deficit and start the new fiscal year (June 1, 2019) strong into the summer.
As noted in May 12’s Gather Worship Services, a Bolivia Team and a Middle-Eastern team were commissioned for trips overseas in early summer. Let’s pray for these Christ Community servants who are leaning into God’s heart for the world.