Quite often my reflections here begin with an image search. This week the focus is on how following God (“imitating God” is how St. Paul describes it) positions us to speak truth and goodness into the lives of people we meet. So I Googled “imitating God” and got ticked off, because most of the images were of fathers walking on beaches with little sons. The silliness of casting God as a papa figure we all want to be like when we grow up!
That’s a big part of the problem in so many Christian circles. The supposition that God is the only adult around and we’re all toddling along, unable to think and do and decide for ourselves, too immature to imitate or follow God for ourselves. It’s that kind of toxic mentality that enables many self-professing Christians to ignore responsibility for their actions, with no concern about how their “God’s got it” nonsense that translates into an endless list of social, moral, and ethical failures.
The divine imitation that St. Paul describes is how we position ourselves to “go for God”—not in the selfish sense, but more literally, as God’s transformative presence in the world. We are the voice of love at the table where racist relatives speechify about “those people.” We are the arms of acceptance in situations where folks are outcast or denied because of their identity. We are the heart of justice when we see hatred codified into law and social custom. We are the feet of protest that take to the streets when outcry must be heard and witnessed in mass numbers. We go for God. And in going, our actions translate into something more powerful than words. People see God in us.
Is imitation the highest form of flattery? In terms of faith, it gets you everywhere. I can think of no better way to give God praise than following God’s ways, yielding to God’s will, and measuring our reflection in God’s word. During this coming Sunday’s YouTube worship, our own Shea Watts will bring these ideas to life—without the Hallmark daddy images and the “not my job” nonsense imbedded in them. Don’t miss it!
With much love,