We’ve often heard the phrase, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The idea, simply, is that if you copy someone it is because they are doing something that you like and want to emulate. Though, of course, imitation can also be turned to mimicry, even mockery, it is often, as the phrase above says, flattery.
Hence, these words of Paul: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to
God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:3).
Imitators of God? The Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos, the Creator and Sustainer of every one of the estimated two trillion galaxies out there? How could we, who at times have trouble sustaining our own selves, imitate God?
Paul says how. Walk in love, as Christ has loved us. Jesus is the Creator God, the One who made everything “that was made” (John 1:3) and yet He humbled Himself, even to “the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). Christ’s coming to this earth and His subsequent self-abnegation, even to having “given Himself for us,” a sacrifice and offering for our sins—which means He substituted Himself for us, paying in Himself for our sins so that we don’t have to—all this points to a self-denying love for the good of others that we can barely comprehend.
But to the degree that we can comprehend it, we are to follow and to imitate. That is, we are to be willing to give of ourselves, selflessly, for the good of others.No question, in this context, imitation is about the best thing we can do.