We are all imitators. From the language we speak and the way we live, we have learned it from someone else.
We are created by community. We came into being because there was communion or sexual union between two persons. When a baby is born, the first thing he or she sees, even if vaguely, is the face of another. And from them, we imitate and we learn.
Here, St Paul urges us to imitate our new found Father as His “beloved children.” Indeed, we are most shaped by those Who loves us. How do we know what a human life of love is? Paul said, “Just as Christ loved us”. Look at the life which Jesus modelled for us. And how did he love us? “He gave Himself up for us.”
Self-giving. Think a moment about this phrase. Love is self-giving. This is what agape love means.
These opening verses lay the foundation to what will be said on sexual purity in rest of the chapter. For to walk in love - for God and our fellow men - is to live a life free from sexual immorality.
Sexual immorality is about self-indulgence, often taking advantage or dishonoring another person. It is about taking, not giving.
If we grasp what love is and have it as a foundational to all we do, it will guide us through our growing up years, work, marriage, parenting and through our struggles with living with our sexuality. Different ones of us will struggle differently with our sexuality. Undoubtedly, in the highly sexualised world we live today, personal holiness may be one of the biggest challenges of the times.
A deep desire to follow or be like Christ can be a life-long motivator to live our lives in a way which glorify God and build up the lives of those around us. It will have a profound and lasting impact on your family. I have a lot more to say about the other aspects of spiritual formation.
But the starting point has to be this: a life-calling to imitate Christ in His self-giving love.