My cousin is in Southern Oregon, visiting from Alaska. It is her once-a-year visit and it is almost over. The family spent time at my home the weekend before last, and I spent time with the family at my aunt and uncle's place in Myrtle Creek this past weekend.
Those special people that didn't meet you in high school as a teen. They didn't meet you as an adult at the workplace, these are not the nice neighbors you just met or the family at church you have known for a couple of years, these people have known you your entire life.
They knew you while you still had baby teeth! They knew you when you were still growing and awkward and unsure. They were there for games of tag and hide and go seek. Building forts in the woods behind the grandparents' place and trips to the river after dinner. Family reunions and story tellings. These are the best times.
My cousin and I have been close all of our lives. When we were kids, we would "write" on each other's back with our finger while trying to guess what the other one was saying. Good times.
My cousin is about 3 years older than I am and as a child, I always looked up to her. I remember in the very early 70's, she showed up to a family function in a mini dress and white go-go boots. I thought she was the coolest thing to walk the planet. I begged my mom for white boots! I never got them.
I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to imitate her. She was shorter than I was; I felt huge. She was petite, I was not. She made friends easily, I was a bit shy. She was outgoing and bold; that was not me. As much as I wanted to be her, I could only be me.
Now that we are 'older', seeing her only once a year has become a very cherished time for me. In a world where we go as fast as humanly possible, it's nice to slow down for a bit and just be in the moment with the people that care about you and in whom you care. And while she is very precious to me and I love her with all my heart, I no longer want to be like her. I can honestly say now, there is just one person who I want to be more like. One person who I strive daily to become more like. That person is Jesus.
Many years ago, in fact it was in the early-to-mid '90's, we had a young man come to work at the radio station.
He wanted more than anything to break into radio and one of my fellow-employees took him under his wing.
It wasn't long before I began to notice some glaring similarities. Not just in the way he walked and talked and carried himself, but in the way he dressed. This new young man began to dress exactly as my coworker, right down to the bow tie. He wanted to be an imitator of his teacher.
Can you relate? Is there anyone, in your past or present, in whom you just want to be more like? That one person who you deeply desire to emulate.
Paul wrote in Ephesians 5 that we are to be imitators of God.
You remember Paul? Paul used to be Saul; born a Jew, persecuted many early Christians; that Paul.
The tables have now changed. Paul is now a Christian and in fact Paul is now under house arrest as a prisoner in Rome.
He wrote: "Therefore be imitators of God, as 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 ESV
In a world screaming to be seen, in a place where the grass always looks greener on the other side, in a time where many have little self esteem and are always looking at others, look to the one. The only one we should try to imitate. Jesus the Christ.
Paul tells us to be imitators of God but what does that look like? He went on to write this:
"But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." Eph 5:3-21 ESV
Let's imitate that!