Dr. Kevin Parker - 2018

Dr. Kevin Parker serves as a state missionary and director of media services for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

Last week, I started a series of three editorials addressing spiritual health. They explore walking with God personally. I already covered talking with God, listening to Him and obeying Him. This week, I discuss imitating God, delighting in Him, desiring His presence and anticipating security with Him.

Imitation means copying another person. People who imitate famous individuals copy their voice, mannerisms and words. Realistic impressions prompt reactions such as "That was so real."

Likewise, Christians ought to imitate God for the world. Though imitation faces limitations, people can still see God's attributes in Christians. Godliness involves behavior, faith, patience, endurance, speech, love, morality, generosity and other characteristics. Paul instructed, "Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children" (Ephesians 5:1).

In other Bible passages, Paul acted as an example for others. He encouraged Christians to imitate him like he imitated Jesus. He also urged saints to imitate other Christians who reflected God. He even described churches imitating other churches who reflected Christ in the world. Imitating God makes one person an example for another person. 

Next, Christians should delight in God. That fuels imitation and other behaviors. Delight includes emotions such as joy, pleasure and excitement. It is a reaction to experiencing God's presence or work. 

Saints can experience delight through God's blessings, through praise and worship and through God's comfort during trouble. The psalmist admits, "When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy" (Psalm 94:19). 

At times, delight requires personal focus and effort. About those efforts, King David said, "Delight yourself in the Lord; and, He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4).

Delight began in God's heart. As such, the Bible records many instances of His pleasure. So, saints' delight in Him is natural.

Desire for God's presence differs from delight. Delight responds to God after He acts. Desire, on the other hand, anticipates His presence and interactions in advance. Delight follows. Desire precedes - anticipates.

King David desired God's presence, saying, "God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you" (Psalm 63:1). Similarly, the Sons of Korah wrote in a psalm, "I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God" (Psalm 84:2). Their longing for God, before they encountered Him, was real. Modern Christians should anticipate His presence like that, too.

Finally, beyond the general desire for God's presence lies a particular yearning for security in God's fellowship. That yearning is subtle but significant. Inside a saint's relationship with God, He has prepared comfort, protection, safety and security. 

The Old Testament uses battle terms to describe that place: shield, shelter, and fortress. With that in mind, David writes, "My eyes look to you, Lord, my Lord. I seek refuge in you" (Psalm 141:8).

That safe place provides a crucial experiential element of Christian faith. In addition to the biblical facts upon which trust in God relies, God also offers secure experiences amid turmoil. As a shield, He protects in the middle of trouble. As a shelter, He grants safety on the edge of unrest before one enters or reenters conflict. As a fortress, God offers an impenetrable refuge, away from the fray.

Christians should imitate God for the world and delight in Him when He manifests Himself. They also should desire His presence and yearn for His special protection. The way saints delight in and desire God and the way the world experiences imitations of Him influence everyone.

How are your imitation, delight, desire and yearning? I hope this checkup highlights areas where you can grow in your walk with God!

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