(Spend 5 minutes before you read thinking about one or two things you appreciate in your life. These appreciation memories will enhance everything that follows)
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
Last week, I spoke of the brain research that showed we have fast track and slow track processing in our brains. The right brain deals with areas like identity, character, motivation, relationships, emotions and behavior. The right brain processes too quickly for conscious thought. So, how does the right brain learn? Since it works too quick for conscious thought, it doesn’t learn through words and studying, through information, but through imitation. We learn habits that will influence our fast track thinking by watching others.
Paul says, “Imitate God.” How can we do this if we cannot see God? To learn from God is to see God at work and imitate what you see.
Jesus gets the ball rolling. “I only do what I see my Father doing.”
Imitation is how Jesus learned to live his life. Imitation is the core of the way Jesus taught his disciples, his students. They watch him almost daily for three years. Then his students invest in the lives of others, living according to the ways of Jesus and these students begin to learn through imitation. Imitating God is where it starts and continues. This has been passed down from the beginning.
To imitate God is to learn from him through looking at Jesus. For us, to learn from Jesus is to imitate those who have been learning from him.
In another letter in the Bible, Paul says he is learning from Jesus, “Imitate me just as I imitate Christ.” As faith is lived out generation to generation, we learn to imitate God by being connected to Jesus and seeing him at work in other people.
This is why you don’t learn to grow in faith without faithful people to imitate. This is why we live our lives in community with other Christians. Why Jesus created churches. It is not information that brings most of our spiritual growth, it is imitation.
When you understand the church is a community of people who focus on Jesus and his mission together, then it becomes difficult to understand how you can grow in your faith without other Christians to model and be a model yourself.