As you hear or read about biblical heroes of faith, do their stories inspire you to similar faith? Or do you disassociate, thinking they were specially called and chosen? All too often, we fail to really relate to them as though that kind of faith is only for a few select people. Believing they were not like us is a huge mistake. They were all flawed people. Scripture clearly communicates that we are all called to interact with and imitate God as His beloved children.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you
God desires deep fellowship with everyone. Being able to personally interact with our heavenly Father in a deep and fruitful relationship is a potential for our life in this world! God has always desired that we get to know Him and be blessed by the benefits of His ways among us. He pursues us and patiently waits for us to answer His call. The question is, “How well do we respond?”
The call to imitate our heavenly Father can seem quite perplexing, if not impossible since no one can be “as God.” Let me assure you that God is not calling us into impossibilities. Notice the words “beloved, love, and loved” in the above verse. The God we are to imitate is love.
Our first step in responding to this heavenly calling is to accept our Father’s love. Next, we want to understand God’s purpose for offspring. God declared His created intention for each of us in the first mention of mankind in Scripture as He announced that we are to be images and likenesses of Him. (see Genesis 1:26) The Hebrew words translated “image” and “likeness” can be accurately translated as “reflection” and “resemblance.”
No child of God can be “as God,” or fully resemble His character, attitude and personality (CAP). However, we are designed to be His apprentices, learning to reflect and resemble the quality expressions of His loving heart.
God does not call us into impossibilities; as apprentices He matures us
into extensions of His heart.
Knowing this, we can understand that being “called” to imitate God, is a way to describe His plan to mature us into extensions of His heart. To help us do this, God provided in a human life the most exact “reflection and resemblance” of His character, attitude and personality – in Jesus Christ.
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman (Galatians 4:4).
God spoke out of love and His voice was infused into the womb of Mary to be formed into a human son. As a son, Jesus revealed God’s desire for everyone.
Just like Jesus
Christ Jesus is the image and likeness of our heavenly Father we can look to, learn from, and gravitate toward resembling. Unfortunately, we tend to disconnect and disassociate from the visual Jesus, believing we cannot truly relate to him because he was the all-knowing and capable Son of God.
Contrary to some views, when Jesus walked the earth he was a man that did not know everything. Scripture says he was tempted in all points like us (Hebrews 4:15). Being tempted means Jesus could have gone astray. He actually overcame error by staying in daily fellowship with his Father.
Being tempted means Jesus could have gone astray.
As a son, Jesus sought to follow God’s insightful lead. Within days of his death, he asked God if there was another way, and yet responded, “Not my will but thine be done.” (Luke 22:42). Even in the toughest of times, he did not stray from His Father’s direction. He met each of life’s challenges and reflectively resembled the heart of his Father.
Intimacy of Father’s Fellowship
Jesus is God’s example of what abundant life in our heavenly Father’s fellowship is really like. Daily fellowship with his Father enabled Jesus to always say and do as God directed. Clearly, much more than a prophet, Jesus was the “pattern son” for each of us.
Everything Jesus did illustrates how to draw from intimacy with the Father’s heart. As offspring, we too, are called to experience this intimate fellowship with God-in-Christ (anointing presence). God desires this marvelous relational reality with each of us today. As a presence among us, He enables us to do so.
Much more than a prophet, Jesus was the “pattern son.”
Jesus followed his Father’s insightful lead, just as God intends for you and me. Not all are called into leadership roles among large groups of people, and yet, we are all called to enjoy God’s presence daily and resemble His heart’s character, attitude and personality (CAP) in our situations and circumstances.
Called and Adopted
Scripture speaks of this calling from offspring into childhood as “adoption.” In Hebrew society an adoption is called a bar mitzvah. Sons were raised primarily by their mother, and at the age of twelve they were adopted by their father. Dad then became the sons’ primary teacher. Their father would educate sons in a trade and discipline them in the ways and methods of the father so the sons could learn to function as a representative of the father.
Similarly, in the fellowship of Father’s presence, we become children of God who are taught, apprenticed, tutored, and disciplined in the Father’s ways. As maturing children we progressively grow into accurate representatives of God’s character, attitude, and personality (CAP) here on earth. I explain this fully in Created to Relate.
In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself (Ephesians 1:4-5).
In adoption we become more than offspring who know God as Provider, Lord, King, and Judge. Through His guidance and the loving discipline of His ways, we gain greater understanding of His eternal perspectives. We can enjoy the life-improving effects of knowing and walking in the ways of God right now.
Answering the Call to Imitate God
As a great Father, God wants to lead and guide us through our life experience. While He invites us to interact, He will never force us to do so. He has given us free will to choose if, and when, we respond; and to what degree we partake of his insightful fellowship. Our level of acceptance determines how abundant our life experience is.
Our level of accepting God’s insightful fellowship determines the abundance of our life experience.
We can accept God’s call to fellowship and experience a relational rebirth yet fail to realize our awakening is meant to activate fellowship with Him. We can be confident of a life after this life and yet be complacent about an active interaction with God in this world.
As we open our heart and receive God’s relational love and insightful guidance, we gradually grow more and more into His resemblance. We can walk in His love in greater degrees, and reflect His love into all our relationships. This is how we imitate God as beloved children. The call to fellowship with God’s presence is not reserved for a chosen few.
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Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder