2009-10-01 - The Highest Form of Flattery
Eph 5:1-3 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; (NASB)
If you've ever seen a good comedian doing an imitation of a well-known individual, they pick out the traits that make that person unique and exaggerate them. The traits are often as well recognized as the person is recognized. Jimmy Carter for his huge smile, William Shatner for his off-rhythmic, dramatic speech, Ed Sullivan for his slightly hunched shoulders and hands often clasped in front of him. These traits and others are prominent features of that person that became targets of the imitators. The successful comedy act would take these traits and exaggerate them to make us laugh - even the person being imitated. I remember President Reagan begin imitated to the delight of the audience, and no one was laughing harder than the President himself who was seated in the front row.
Most people don't like to be laughed at by others, but that is not at all what is happening here. The humor is not meant to be disrespectful. It is purely to entertain and done with as much respect for the person being imitated as much as anything. It is often said that flattery is the highest form of praise. So what do we take from this line of thinking when we see Paul speaking to the Ephesians in chapter five?
Paul instructs the church at Ephesus, and us many years later, to be "imitators of God". Are we to pick out the funny habits that God has and poke fun at them? This form of imitation is more along the lines of a teacher or a parent being imitated by their students or their children. There is common ground here between the two imitations. Both recognize important traits and learn from them and use them. The comedians make us laugh. We should help people around us see the love our Father has for them.
The best example we have to follow is Jesus. He walked and talked with us for 33 years and left a wake of changed as He moved through the world. He prayed often, healed the sick, brought comfort to the down trodden and sent out His own imitators who became the next set of ripples changing the face of the cities and towns they visited sharing the love of Christ the Messiah.
I heard a man speak a few weeks ago who had been a member of a terrorist organization. He came to the United States with a plan to infiltrate our culture and do as much to undermine it as possible. He was seriously injured in an accident (God's intervention in his life) and was found by a group of Christian men who got him to a hospital, arranged for his care and took him to their homes to recover from surgery. They fed him, they clothed him, they prayed for him, they arranged payment for his medical bills (since he was not from this country and had no medical insurance) and most importantly they showed him honest care and concern born out of the love God had given them. They didn't hide their faith from him, but clearly showed him that Christians are compassionate and God is active in their lives. All the while he was planning how he could kill them and burn the house to hide his crime, they loved him with the love of the Father. He said it was the love of God that they shared with him that broke through his hate and won him to Christ. He now travels sharing the gospel and how it impacted his life so dramatically.
Not all the victories we are sent will be so dramatic, but they are no less significant. We are told that angels in Heaven rejoice when one person accepts the salvation that Jesus Christ offers (Luke 15:10). It's free for the asking if you are willing to admit that you are not perfect (that you have sinned), that you need God's forgiveness, and are willing to turn away from those sins and walk with Him following His example. If you have questions - please write us.
It does have one cost - the life that you can not keep. It has a reward - eternity with God. So you gain what you could never acquire yourself, in exchange for something you can not keep.
Selah. (Think about it.)
Grace & Peace,