By Lyle Hinsdale
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the
entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.’”
The people of God are called to imitate God, to mimic him, and chase after his holiness. They are called to be holy, because he is holy. The righteousness, justice, and mercy of God are to be displayed through the behavior of his people as they live in relationship with their holy God.
The call to imitate God is seen throughout the Old Testament text. One of the more beautiful ways this call of imitation is displayed is in the parallel psalms 111 and 112. Both of these psalms are acrostics, each line begins with the successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. These psalms are placed in the psalter in their particular order for a particular purpose; that is, they demonstrate the call of imitation. Psalm 111 is about God and his holiness. Psalm 112 is about holiness imitated by the one who loves God. Both God and the one who loves him display parallel traits: the righteousness of both endures forever (Pss. 111:3 and 112:3); both are gracious and merciful (Pss. 111:4 and 112:4); God gives food to his worshippers while the godly give to the needy (Pss. 1115 and 112:9); and both act justly (Pss. 111:7 and 112:5). God is imitated and his holiness is mimicked by his people.
The concept of imitating God is carried on into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul calls Christians to imitate God.
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
We are called to imitate the holiness of God, the justice of God, the mercy of God, and the love of God. When people look at us, they should see God. When people see us in action, they should see the hand of God at work. When we encounter broken, hurting, needy, and disillusioned people, they should experience the ministering and merciful hand of God through us. Our call is to imitate God. Let’s be sure we courageously answer the call and point the way to God.