From our Gospel reading for the third Sunday after Lent, the evangelist tells us to be “followers” of Christ. I like the NIV words here, “BE imitators.” One can be a follower and still not adhere to Christ’s precepts and teachings. But, to be an imitator, we will have to mimic Christ’s behavior.
So we are to be imitators of Christ. How do we do that; by forgiving one another, As God, in Christ has forgiven us. This is the motive which should make us forgive others. God's forgiveness towards us is free, thus our forgiveness of those who have hurt and betrayed us should come without restrictions or limits. Now is it OK to hurt, to free betrayed, to be angry? Yes, but at some point we have to let go so that we do not allow Satan to control our daily life. In 4:31, St. Paul writes that we are to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” All these things grieve the Holy Spirit.
God has placed us under such a great obligation. We are not only to imitate God in being forgiving, but also in love; we are to live in love. As Christ loved us, is the reason why we should love one another. We should be like Christ, which is being like God, for Christ is God. The apostle makes no distinction between our being the objects of God's love, and our being the objects of Christ's love. We are to be imitators of God in love, for Christ has loved us. He gave himself up for us.
In our epistle for today, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians that they were sometimes living in darkness, “but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” We are not to have any “fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” The dwellers of the darkness do not produce anything but sin, hatred, malice toward their fellowman, and hardness of the heart.
Those who have their lives illuminated by Christ also introduce that light into the dark areas of human conduct. In Matthew, we heard Jesus tell us, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
And St. John tells us that “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
God is light, so in Him there is no darkness at all. We cannot walk with God and still walk in darkness; therefore those in the light belong to Christ. Light, by nature, exposes what is in darkness and the contrast reveals sin for what it really is. It is light that makes everything visible.
So as St. Paul reminds us, in Romans, “. . . let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.”