From the Word
“Therefore be imitators of God as His beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Imitation happens whether we like it or not. The issue is who we will imitate and why. We learn many things by observing them. We will either imitate them or rebel against them. Ephesians 5: 3-21 includes many things we should not imitate, especially sexual sins. By contrast, God calls us to imitate Him in very specific ways.
Husbands and wives are called to imitate Jesus and the Church in their married lives. Biblical marriage is not so much following rules or prescriptions, but is a call to observe and imitate. This is not a new teaching in Ephesians 5. The marriage covenant of salvation is a consistent theme in the OT. Paul simply applies this OT teaching to Christ and the Church, then calls husbands and wives to imitate this Gospel relationship.
We are called by God to apply this unchanging truth to our ever-changing world. As we see the destruction and disintegration of marriage among us, God holds before husbands Jesus as the model to follow in loving their wives. He holds before wives the Church’s reception of Jesus love, and response in love to it, as the model of what it is to be a Christian wife. What a witness to the world we can give by simply, albeit imperfectly, confessing the Gospel by our love for each other as husbands and wives.
Fathers are called to imitate the Father in their love for their children. As God provides for, and teaches, us, we are called to provide for, and teach, our children. Parenting is imitating God as we invest ourselves in our children. Motherhood is elsewhere compared to the Church in being the vessel of giving and sustaining life, as the Church does God’s children. God the Father is eternal, an ancient concept. Yet his love and care for His children is not only relevant for our time, it is essential. We constantly find, in our homes, new ways to communicate the timeless love of God to His Church and His children.