Paul gives us an impossible theological command in Ephesians 5. He prepares us for that command in chapter four, where he tells us to walk in accordance with our calling. There, he defines that calling as both divine, and very high. He explains the calling (and the walk) in terms of how we interact with those around us. But in chapter five, Paul makes a much more difficult statement that carries far more theological weight! He commands us to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1)! But how do we do that when we can’t even see God? Paul is quick to remind us that those of us who are Christians, are children of God, and like all good children with good parents, we should naturally imitate them. You don’t have to tell a young boy to imitate his wise father. He just instinctively does it. You don’t have to tell a young woman to imitate her poised mother. She just instinctively does it. He then gives us the example. He tells us to walk in love just like Jesus (Ephesians 5:2). To love like Jesus means to sacrifice one’s life for the spiritual well-being of people who outright reject you, and might even spit on you if given the chance. To walk out a life of love like that is a daily sacrifice. And that’s what makes the task impossible. But, of course, all things (especially things like this) are possible with God (Matthew 19:23-26, Luke 1:36-37, Philippians 4:11-13). In that simple, but difficult walking metaphor in verse 2, Paul also equates Jesus with God. If we imitate Jesus, afterall, we’re also imitating God.
Like Jesus, our walk should also be one that is well lit, and not characterized by darkness (Ephesians 5:3-14). Our walk should not be one that is marked by sexual immorality, obscenity, impure motives, greed, or submission to ungodly worldly powers, temptations, pleasures or institutions. Instead, it should be a walk marked by devotion to truth, light, love, and properly placed faith. We should expose darkness with the light that shines through us.
Further, it should be a walk marked by wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-21). This means we should strive to discover what things please God, and then do them, while also recognizing foolishness, and earnestly avoiding it.
Yes, Paul gives us an impossible command. You will at times fail in the implementation of it. Lord knows I have. But Paul makes this command knowing full well that we serve a God who literally creates infinite possibilities which render the impossible finite. So when you fall, get back up and start walking again. Walk with God long enough, and he’ll empower you to walk like him. The more you walk with him, the more you will succeed, and the less you will fail.