“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV84)
My wife and I accomplished the task, we saw all 9 Oscar© nominated movies prior to the awards ceremony. We watched as the little golden men were handed out and our predictions were just about perfect. Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Christoph Waltz and Anne Hathaway all gave Oscar© worthy performances. As I think about these actors, it occurs to me that each one was dedicated to their craft. I saw an American president, a widowed Philadelphian, a German bounty hunter and a French peasant girl – not Hollywood actors. These actors dedicated themselves to their craft, assuming the mannerism and language appropriate for their role. They became those they were cast to play.
Excellence is uncommon. That’s probably why we watch awards shows in the first place. Unfortunately, we live oftentimes in a mediocre culture. Our motto may well be “That’s Good Enough”. We are witnesses to mediocrity everywhere – customer service representatives who are bothered with justifiable complaints, parking lots with cars haphazardly placed around the painted lines, typographical and grammatical errors in newspapers and grocery store signs, and an unlimited supply of bad coffee. Sad to say, even the church is susceptible to mediocrity, with our occasional lackadaisical prayers and emotionless acts of service.
Paul called the church to be imitators of God, the epitome of excellence. God’s first recorded act – creation – is described as ‘good’ and ‘very good’, never ‘adequate’. God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, never simply ‘enough for now’. God’s most excellent demonstration of His love for us was dying in our place, which is so much more than any of us would typically be willing to offer to express our love. Whether it is the colors of the sky at dusk or the variety of vegetation on the slopes of the Blue Hills, it is a blessing to know the God who wasn’t satisfied with ‘good enough’.
How I would love to say that I was so devoted to God that I focused all my energies on imitating Him. It is said that during the filming of Lincoln that Daniel Day-Lewis remained in character both on-screen and off the entire time. (It is little wonder, with such a dedication to excellence, that he is now the only man to have three “Best Actor” academy awards.) In order to imitate God and know this love that Paul speak of in these verses, I’d be required to read about Him, seek to understand Him, talk like Him, interact like Him, and care like Him. I may not win any award, but this pursuit for excellence is worth the effort demanded. My only desire is at the end someone might say that I did such a great job it was like they were seeing God.