Friday, October 20, 2006

Imitating God

Last year, I had been faced with a strong case of the flu. Body aches, a runny nose, and a fever. Oh, the misery! If there is anything my wife can’t take, it’s me sick. I can’t be sick silently. I share it with the world.

“My head hurts!” “No screaming, kids!” “Where’s the Tylenol?”

It annoys her to no end. When she gets sick, she refuses to get near me. I don’t think that she is really concerned that I stay well. Really, I wonder if she just doesn’t want to take care of another “kid” for a few days. I can’t blame her. I’m a bad sick person!

Well, toward the end of my flu bout, when the headache was subsiding and the aches and pains were finally over, I found myself with energy I hadn’t had in days. Plus, I had done nothing but sleep. But, there was a problem with the energy boost. As thrilled as I was to have some strength back, the timing was odd. It was about 3 AM when I noticed it! I was wide awake and rested. Oh well, may as well do something.

So, I got up. I walked into the living room, and saw what my poor wife had to contend with while my rear was out of gear. It’s hard keeping up on the house when both of us are on it, with 3 out of 4 kids mobile. I know how it is when she is out of commission. So, I did something that thrilled her socks off. I took my newly acquired energy, and cleaned the house. I straightened up the living room. I loaded the dishwasher, and started it. I swept the floor. I think I may have even mopped the kitchen! I was a cleaning fool. And after about an hour, I had it looking nice, and was feeling tired again, so, off to bed I went.

You should have seen the look on her face that morning when she got up. It was like the cleaning fairy had come while we were all asleep and cleaned house. She was in heaven! And, I might add, quite happy that her man decided to just do something to make the place nicer, and take a load off of her back. Can you say “brownie points”?

Sometimes I wonder if God feels that way when we do things to advance his Kingdom. Does he rejoice when we see that homeless guy on the exit ramp and joyfully help him out? Does it make him happy when his children reach out to the hungry with a meal and a kind word? I don’t think I’d be stretching the bounds of my authority if I said that God loves to see his children imitating him. In fact, I can pin scripture down on it:

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV

God is pleased when he sees us do what his only begotten Son did-sacrifice. You see, it cost God to save us. It cost Jesus Christ. And he longs to see the love and attitude of Christ displayed in us as we grow in our faith. And following Christ means lives of sacrifice. Sacrifice doesn’t necessarily mean that we are laying down our lives, though that certainly fits the description. Every time we look beyond our own comfort, and look beyond our desires to see the needs of those around us, we sacrifice. For Jesus, since he is God, it was leaving the glories of heaven, his majestic throne, and service from myriads of angels to take on a human body, and be born in a smelly stable. It was a sacrifice for him just to grace us with his presence, though we didn’t recognize him. It was love that motivated God the Father to send his only begotten Son into this sin-infested world and die the most brutal death, and bleed on that cross. It was Christ’s love for us that held him on that cross. Sacrifice. It’ll cost something.

What are some ways that you can look beyond yourself to see the need of your neighbor today? In what ways can you splash some of God’s love around on those who need him? That’s what Jesus meant when he said to “take up our cross”. The imagery to the first century Jew or Roman was clear. The cross was a form of the death penalty. To us, the cross is a religious symbol above the baptistery at church. It’s a piece of jewelry on a necklace. Not then. It represented death; death to our own human wills; death to our selfish ambitions and comforts.

So, what has to die so you can be a Christ-imitator to your neighbor?
God bless!


Roughrider said...

Great post.
You had me at the word "brownie" points.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Jeff. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. I can relate to your wife's lifestyle, hence, my pen name. God bless, keep up the good blogs.

Steve said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful expose on the heart of the Savior! It is very saddening that all too often Christians see their own properity and success as indications of God's best!

It may be old, but Jesus, Others, and You, what a wonderful way to spell joy!!