This is the sermon I preached for the Wilson Lake Service at Wilson Lake.
Read Ephesians 4:17-5:2
In the Name of Jesus! AMEN!
Copying the works or actions of another is generally frowned upon. If you copy your brother or sister, they are going to get annoyed. If you try to copy the answers off the paper of one of your classmates, you will get in trouble. If you take an idea that was someone else’s and claim it as your own, you could be arrested and put in jail.
Most people do not like it when you copy their works or actions, and likewise none of us likes it when someone else copies our words and actions. You want to be unique, you want to be an individual, you want to make your own personal mark on the world. To be copied, to be imitated, means that you are no longer unique, no longer the only one, no longer special in the eyes of others.
It is therefore quite surprising, that in our reading we heard that that we are to be imitators of God.
It is especially surprising because when people try to imitate God, they normally get in big trouble. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God in the Garden of Eden, and they were tossed out of the Garden for their actions. People today who try to tell others what to do are accused of trying to be God. Leaders who try to set themselves up as God are often not leaders for very long.
So it stands to reason that if you were to try to imitate God, you would be sinning, guilty of breaking several commandments. What would make you any different from Adam and Eve, and all the others, who try to be God?
Well, there are certainly better ways to imitate God then others.
No, you cannot exercise lordship over the creation; neither can you cast final judgment upon others for their sins from your own self-appointed position. And try as you might to bring things about according to your own will; it is God who has the final say in all matters in heaven and on earth.
But you can imitate God in your kindness shown toward others. Jesus tells us to love your neighbor as God first loved you. You can imitate God in showing kindness to those in need, by visiting the sick and shut-in, and by bringing a friend to church.
Another way to imitate God is by forgiving others as God in Christ forgave you. Through Jesus suffering and death on the cross, the stain of sin has been wiped away. Even though we daily sin much, God daily and richly forgives us of those sins. You can now imitate God by showing that same willingness to forgive others as God forgave you.
Imitating God is not easy. It is not always easy to forgive those around us; it is not always easy to show love toward our neighbors.
And so we give thanks that it is we who are called upon to imitate God, and not God who imitates us. Despite our failings in imitating God, we rejoice that God never fails in showing His loving kindness toward us and in forgiving our sins.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! AMEN!