Continuing our thoughts on Ephesians 5:1—Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children—not only does Paul tell us to be followers (“mimics”) of God, but he goes further to use the word be; this is the Greek ginomai, “to become,” and is an imperative. In other words, we are commanded to become mimics of God. This is not optional, rather mandatory.
To help in this process, Paul said that Christians could mimic him as he mimicked God (I Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; II Thes. 3:7, 9). Some people view Paul as being arrogant in that attitude, but they do not understand what he is actually saying. We must not misunderstand Paul to say that he is the model but rather Christ is the Model. Paul made this clear in I Corinthians 11:1: “Be ye [mimics] of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Again, he does not say that he is the model but rather an example of the Model. Based upon that, may we now realize that this should be true of every believer. People should be able to mimic me and mimic you. That thought, indeed, puts a tremendous responsibility upon each of us.
Paul even gives an all-important illustration of this principle. He uses the words as dear children. The Greek for children (teknon) is one of three words used in Scripture for children. One is pais, from which is derived English words such as “pediatrics,” refers to a young child. Another, which arises from pais, is paidion, which refers to a smaller child, or even an infant. Teknon, however, which is from tiktō (“to beget”), “emphasizes a child’s origin . . . physical ancestry, or even spiritual fatherhood and sonship.” So Paul’s point is that as those who are God’s children should act like Him. There is nothing more imitative than a child. This is one way in which he or she learns.
I’ve never forgotten a television commercial I saw many years ago. While it was short and had no dialog, the impact was powerful. A father and his little boy, who looked to be about two years old, were sitting together under a tree. The dad reached into his shirt pocket, retrieved a pack of cigarettes, lit one, and laid the pack down between he and his son. Having seen what his father had done, the little boy picked up the pack and looked at it. The camera froze on that picture, and the point was made.
So, as children of God we are to mimic the Father. May this challenge each of us to look at our lives and ask, “When my children mimic me, are they mimicking the right things; can people in general do the Godly thing by mimicking my life?”
To further illustrate with a related passage, this is why one of the qualifications for a pastor is that he is “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (I Tim. 3:4). That is true for two reasons. First, if he can’t rule his own house, how can he lead a church? Second, however, other Christians must be able to mimic him, and they will whether the result is good or bad.
We have all heard the term “namesake,” which refers to someone who has the same name as another, especially one who is named after someone else. The story has been told that Alexander the Great had a certain namesake, but not one that honored him. One of his soldiers was brought before him for court-martial. After listening to the charges, turned to the soldier and asked, “What is your name?” “Alexander!” was the reply. Again the emperor questioned, “What is your name?” And the second time the soldier answered, “Alexander!” With a cry of rage, the emperor roared, “I say, what is your name?” When the soldier answered for the third time, “Alexander!” the great general angrily replied, “You say your name is Alexander? You are found guilty of your crime as charged, and now you must pay the penalty. Either change your conduct or change your name, for no man can bear the name of Alexander, my name, and do the things that you have done.”
Likewise, many people today call themselves “a Christian,” but their life does not mimic their Namesake. As Christians, we are His namesake; we are Christianos (literally, “of the party of Christ,” cf. Acts 11:26). Our lives, therefore, must reflect Him.