A Living Example

Posted: November 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

In a world full of distractions and business it is easy for us to get side-tracked and caught up in all the different things of this world and begin to lose focus and direction. Which is why it so important for us every so often to get back to the basics. This is especially true with our spiritual life. Overtime, we can focus our attention too much on the details, the do’s and don’ts (if you will) of the Christian life, that we begin to lose sight of the big picture. And so it is not surprising, for example, that right after a list of things to put off like falsehood, anger, bitterness, rage and so on, Paul pulls back and inserts a couple of “big picture” verses…

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 many ways this is a very good summary of the Christian life. Simply put, we are to be imitators of God. The Greek word here which is translated “imitate” is mimetai, from which we get the English word mimic. In other words, Paul is saying that we are to mimic God.

cam beardNow we all do this to a certain degree with our friends, heroes and role models, but the most common example of this is our parents… we inevitably copy and mimic how they talk, what they wear, sometimes even their beards 🙂 Now while this can be somewhat humorous, it should also remind those of us who are parents what a huge responsibility we have in modeling our faith. Because as much as we don’t like to admit it, we can’t tell them to do something we ourselves don’t practice. As the poet James Baldwin once said, “Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

The question is, what kind of example are we leaving them. Here is one helpful perspective from Joe Rigney over at Desiring God…

We are charged by God to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God himself has commanded us to communicate to our children what he is like. And God is fundamentally a Happy Father, a Well-Pleased Parent. And just as the Father communicates his delight in his Son through his words and deeds and demeanor and presence, so also should we. Four suggestions for starters:

1) Be thrilled about what they are thrilled about. 

Join them in their joy, however simple and childlike. Whether it’s drawing a stick figure or building a castle out of blocks, be lavish with your “well-dones” and “good jobs.” Find the good and the glory in everything they do. When they pull out the pots and pans, and turn them into drums, there is imagination and creativity to rejoice in.

2) Recognize that an atmosphere of joy and delight is the only environment in which discipline is safe and good. 

Sin poisons the gladness of a godly home and breaks the fellowship of the family. Wise discipline quickly sets things right — clear explanations, swift discipline (whether spanking or otherwise), sincere repentance, prayerful repentance, and then restoration of the sweet gladness of fellowship.

3) Remember that the main way they experience joy is through laughter and play. 

Fun is joy in kid form. There are more complex joys that come with increasing maturity. But the only way that they will grow into them is if they are well-acquainted with the simple pleasures of play. So be a good missionary and contextualize. Translate joy into their language. This doesn’t mean that you should stay shallow or trivial. It does mean that family devotions ought to be marked by gladness and delight, by bright eyes, loud singing, and manifest affection. And if a tickle fight should happen to break out every now and then, count yourself blessed and see it as success.

4) Make the most of temporary separations and reunions. 

Communicate your pleasure in them as you leave and your excitement when you return. Leave with laughter and come home happy. Let the exuberance in your voice and the warmth of your smile and the brightness of your eyes reveal to them the God who joyously sings over his people, the father who runs to his son when he sees him on the horizon.

And so again, to all moms and dads, embrace the joy of your calling. Your Father is smiling on you. So be the smile of God to your children.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 (ESV)

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