November 23, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 5)

Submitted by Michelle S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 5:1–2 (ESV)

“The standard is high, but so is the privilege.  Christians have God’s spirit with them (4:30) and belong in God’s family (5:1).  Such a lofty position requires that God’s character be reflected in the way we treat other people.  Copying God only means taking seriously who God says we are.” [Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 255.]

  • How does the phrase “as beloved children” give insight into what it means to “be imitators of God?” 

Because we are dearly loved children, we understand love from what we have received and from how we were treated by the father.  What God is asking us to imitate is not some excellence or competence, but the aspect of our relationship with God, which is love.  He has loved us in such sacrificial and all consuming kind of way and we are therefore to imitate this love.  And the truth is that unless we know that we are beloved children of God, there is no way that we can imitate this kind of love that has been shown to us.  It takes time for people to internalize this truth that we are unconditionally loved, that we have been given this position that cannot be taken away and that we did not contribute to this at all in any way.  It was a pure gift and it was something that was done unto us, but when we do receive this love in a childlike way, then we understand that we belong to God.  We are loved not because of what we can do, but just because he first loved us and called us his own. Once we are caught by this love, then it is only natural for us to be transformed by this love and therefore pass this on to others.

I think about the way I have been dearly loved by God and how this security that I feel in him, makes me reach out to others.  When I think about how tortured people are because they are looking for love in all the wrong places, I cannot help but feel pity and want to let them know this great news of God’s unmerited love.  Children naturally imitate their parents as they watch their parents closely day in and day out.  They become imitators from small habits to big things like the worldview or life philosophy.  It’s very natural and only right that the children imitate their parents because that is one way that they learn to grow up. There is much trust that is already built into that relationship and the children like to imitate their parents.  They will start to walk like their parents, talk like their parents and eventually think like their parents down the line.  As long as the child remains in a loving relationship with the parents, he will grow up to be just like the father or the mother as a child gets shaped by the love that she receives in ways that she will never know.  As long as I remain as a beloved child of God, then I would be able to live out the life of love as I just need to do as I have been shown and loved myself.

  • Who is our model for a life of love?  Reflect on the love of Christ demonstrated in giving himself “for us” as an offering “to God.” 

Our model for a life of love is Jesus Christ who loved us enough to die for us on the cross making his own life an offering and sacrifice to God.  This is the love that we are called to imitate and it cannot be anything less than this.  Why is it that we cannot imitate any lesser model than the model of Jesus Christ?  Why do we have to follow his model, which eventually led to the death on the cross?  I am reminded of what Jesus said about our lives.  He said in John 12:24 “24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  Why does love have to involve death, the death of self, is there another way?  I am tempted to choose the lesser way, which is not dying to myself each time I love, but I want to do some good deeds towards others and also save myself.  I always think that there is an easier way to love others, but the more I try to live out this verse, it is true that there is no lesser way to love than to completely die to myself.  I think one reason why there is no lesser way might be because unless I am loving by sacrificing, or offering myself to others in some sort of painful way, I also do not understand the joy of loving others.  It’s painful but joyful at the same time and unless I am giving my all (as much as I can possibly give, even this I am not sure if it is possible for sinner like me), I might do the act of love, but miss out on the joy of loving others.  Jesus showed it and demonstrated it on the cross–that is how I am also called to love.

Submitted by Tony S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • How does the phrase “as beloved children” give insight into what it means to “be imitators of God?”

Humans are imitators by nature.  Kids imitate their favorite sports stars when they play sports.  Children imitate their parents or older brothers and sisters.  I remember sitting in the living room reading one day with my feet on coffee table and seeing my son also putting his feet on the table reading his favorite story book.  It is common for children to emulate things they see their parents doing.  It is the same way for us as Christians.  Once we look to the ultimate sacrifice God made for us, we begin to imitate Him as beloved children and become more like Him in response.

  • Who is our model for a life of love?  Reflect on the love of Christ demonstrated in giving himself “for us” as an offering “to God.”

Jesus is our model for a life of love.  In John 15:12-13, Jesus commanded us, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  His love for us, demonstrated by giving Himself as an offering to God arise out of the same kind of relationship that He has with God, His Father, that made it possible for Him to love us.  In this same manner, and from the same source, we are to love one another with the same quality of love.  He loved us because God is love, and He was indwelt by the Father.  He was in the Father, and the Father in Him. As He yielded to that relationship, love flowed out. Since God is love, as we yield to that relationship to Jesus, love flows from us.  And it will have the qualities that His love has.  While we need to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, a lot of times love can be shown in even the smallest gestures.   It is not something we can ever take a break from or ever finish.   We need to show love whether we are tired, overworked, under pressure, on vacation, at the office, at our home, on the road, etc. To love like this, we need to be alert and give 24/7 effort.  Love is expressed by the following:  taking over the cleaning duty of roommate who is stressed over an exam, taking out the trash, washing the dishes, going to the store for harried parents, listening/speaking a kind word to peers, comforting the discouraged, making a phone call to our parents, asking about someone’s life, bringing chicken soup or gatorade for someone who is sick.

  • To whom has God called me to give myself, and in so doing, present a “fragrant offering” to God?

I am thankful that by answering God’s call to the ministry, God has given me so many people to give myself and present myself as fragrant offering to Him.  I’ve grown up only thinking about myself and making sure that I took care of my needs before anyone, including my family.  But after becoming a Christian, it was clear to me what God’s plan is.  It is that I no longer live a live for myself but for others.  Since then, my life is filled with people:  college students, peers, leaders, Joyland kids, Impact kids, Praxis members and recently Interhigh students at 13 churches that we serve at.  No matter what I think I have that is worthy to offer, I am glad that God did and continues to use everything and anything in my life to bless others.

Submitted by Patrick L. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

•     How does the phrase “as beloved children” give insight into what it means to “be imitators of God?” 

Only when begin to see ourselves as “children” and then as “beloved children” will we begin to imitate Him.  Seeing myself as a child means that I see myself as someone dependent, who needs help to live and instruction about living, will make me look around for a model.  But only seeing myself as beloved child will make me want to imitate the ones I have to depend on.

When our children were young, I remember times when they deliberately tried to imitate something we were doing.  As we did certain things, they watched and imitated our movements.  Our relationship made them want to do things like us so that they could be with us.  Also, I remember growing up that I knew I was a child and dependent on others, but I did not believe I was beloved by all the adults around me.  Some I just feared and for some of these, could only think of how not get their attention.  But I believed my father loved me so then I began modeling my life on his ways.

When I first heard the gospel, my concept of God was that he was more a thing than a person, a thing to be feared and be guarded against.  It took time to change my view of God and during that time, I had no thoughts about imitating him because I was trying to make sure I didn’t do something that violate his whims, nor did I want to imitate a God who initially seemed capricious like every other power I had known.  Changing my conception of the Father changed my desires.  Knowing the depth of his love, the fullness of his acceptance, kindness, and forgiveness for me filled me with a sense of wholeness and gratitude to Him, which then made me want to know him and be like him.  Knowing his love, made me want to be like him and enter into his ways, so that I would be pleasing to him and be like Him to others.

•     Who is our model for a life of love?  Reflect on the love of Christ demonstrated in giving himself “for us” as an offering “to God.”

Christ is our model for a life of love, both in his life and death.  His life was a picture of daily sacrifice, one much like a parent with a sick child.  He went out of his way to find the spiritually needy and he pushed himself to meet their needs, physical and spiritual.  And when the needs of the children demanded his life, he willingly surrendered it.  Thinking on Christ’s love, he changes the way that I see others beyond my family.  Ordinarily, I would do whatever would be necessary for my children to grow and be healthy and live a decent life, but the bounds of my love would end there.  Christ’s love shows me that I can and must see those that I meet as my children, too, that they need time, attention, prayers, care, and truth just as much as my own children.

Also, I see that this care must go beyond what would seem sensible bounds.  Romans 5:8 reminds me that God loved me while I was doing things deserving his justice and yet he sent his Son to die for me.  Matthew 5:43-48 shows me that I must go beyond loving friends to loving those who hate me.  Or rather, I should not be an outer bound who I will love.  I must open my heart to those who irk me and would ordinarily make me angry.  In loving them, I will walk in the way that Christ loved me.

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