Matthew 28:19 tells us, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Notice it doesn’t say to go make congregations or go make audiences. The word disciple was coined by the Pharisees. A disciple was a student of that Pharisee but was much more than that. They would follow the Pharisee around everywhere and imitate exactly what they did. If the Pharisee was studying the Torah, the disciple was studying the Torah, if the Pharisee was eating, the disciple was eating, if the Pharisee was going to the bathroom…well, you get the picture. So, when Christ said go make disciples, He was telling us to go make imitators of Him. If we are truly a disciple of Christ, we do everything that He would have done. Remember those WWJD bracelets and shirts? Of course, like everything else, it became more religion, just another Christian fad, but that is a true disciple. A real disciple would ask themselves in every situation, What Would Jesus Do?
So, it’s no surprise that Paul starts out the 5th chapter of Ephesians by saying, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2. Notice he doesn’t say to imitate God in some things, he says to imitate God in everything we do. Remember what he said in 1 Corinthians 5:31, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” We must glorify God in everything we do, even eating and drinking.
Paul even goes on to tell us why we should imitate God, he says at the end of verse 1 that we should want to do this because we are His children. Remember back to Ephesians 1:5 where Paul says, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” Notice he specifically says that we were adopted as sons. He doesn’t say sons and daughters, but that we are all, male and female, adopted as sons. The reason he says this it that at the time this letter was written to the church at Ephesus, the male child got all the inheritance. So, what he is saying here is that we are all equally adopted with full benefits. You see, there might have been some chauvinism among the people of that day, but not with God. Paul laid it out even clearer to the Galatian church when he said, “26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” Galatians 3:26-29. You see, people can be prejudiced, sadly even God’s people can get that way, but God loves us all equally.
Verse 2 of our passage goes into the theme that is throughout the New Testament, the theme of Unity of the Body of Christ. I know this particular verse doesn’t say to be united directly, but that’s what this message of love is all about. Remember what Jesus said when the Pharisee asked Him what the most important law was? Matthew 22:37-40, “37 Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” If we love God and love each other the way that God loves us, we won’t be breaking the commandments. We talked a lot about love in a previous blog titled “A More Excellent Way.” Love is the one spiritual gift that all of us can have and the only spiritual gift that we can take to heaven with us because it is the only one we will need in heaven. Think about it, we won’t need prophecy because we will know things the way God knows us. We won’t need tongues because we will all be speaking the same heavenly language. We won’t need miracles because there will be no sickness or disease. And, as far as gifts of teaching and admonishing and service, we will be learning at the feet of Jesus…is not that beautiful?
Paul tells us to follow Christ’s example. He says that Christ’s sacrifice was “a pleasing aroma to God.” Jesus selflessly gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. He left the perfection of heaven to come to earth, be born as a man, live 33 years all the while being ridiculed and persecuted, then died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Paul says this was a pleasing aroma to God. The Old Testament talks a lot about the sacrifices being a sweet-smelling aroma to God and Paul is saying that Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, was a pleasing aroma.
He goes on to say that our love for each other is a fragrant aroma to God. Look at Philippians 4:15-20, it says, “15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. 18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. 20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.” You see, the gifts that the Philippian church sent to Paul were a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God. By loving others, by helping others, by imitating Christ, we can present a fragrant aroma to God.
To sum it up, Imitate God, Love Others, and take what God has blessed you with, and use it to bless others.