Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph 5:1-2
Beloved is agapētós: esteemed, favorite, worthy of love. It is the same word the Father spoke immediately following Jesus’ baptism.
“And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved (agapētós) Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Mat 3:17
God’s love in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son…” is agapáō love in a social or moral sense, to be fond of, to love dearly.
The difference is subtle but profound. Agapáō in John 3:16 is the love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses…by nature children of wrath. Eph 2:1-3. This is a statement of God’s character. He loved us because of who He is despite who we were. In contrast, Agapētós in Eph 5:1 is a statement about us. As believers made alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph 2:5-6 we are now esteemed as His favorites, worthy of His love.
The reason for the change in our status remains the same. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8-9 Nevertheless we have been promoted to the rank of favored children with Jesus and seated with Him as if we’d been there the entire time.
Let that sink in…
When viewed correctly this revelation should provoke both
Gratitude and Fear.
Historically, believers embrace one or the other. We are consumed with Rom 7:15-25 “Oh what a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” Or we redact Romans 7 completely in lieu of Romans 8.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:1-2
Mind you this is Paul the Apostle speaking about himself. He went a step further in 1 Cor 4:13 when he described himself as the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. He said this in the context of addressing what I call “celebrityism” beginning in chapter three.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 1 Cor 3:7
“Celebrityism” is born of the “self” that Jesus requires us to deny. Mat 16:24 “I” becomes doctrine such that “My identity” supersedes His wherever “self” is not slain. It is so subtle, so seemingly normal that most do not give it a second thought. The doctrine of “I” is most clearly seen in an obsession with “My Ministry”, “My Calling”, “My gift”, “My significance” etc.
I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1Cor 4:6-7
“Celebrityism” begins with a sincere desire to be used by God and becomes idolatry when we idolize those we wish we could be in the world. “Celebrityism” is pride unwittingly instilled by culture. It is carnal- a work of the flesh. 1 Cor 3:1-4 It is a desire to be something or someone in the world in Jesus’ name. It is a fruit of immaturity, comparison, performance, and a perverted understanding of what it means to be
Many believers wrestle with the paradox of identity IN Him. Either we are so consumed with beholding our reflection in His eyes as we imagine it that we can not even see Him. Or we are so consumed with guilt, shame, and condemnation that we can not see Him. Either way, the enemy doesn’t care if we are consumed with narcissism or self-hatred. He only needs us to be focused on the unholy trinity of
Me, Myself and I
It’s been the same game since the fall when Adam and Eve’s attention went from perfect fellowship with God to an obsession with self when their eyes went from Him to themselves and they realized they were naked. Gen 3 The enemy doesn’t need us to choose sin. He just needs us to be focused on sin. He is perfectly happy to have me indulging with impunity or shamefully struggling in the flesh to avoid it. If only we would realize that all of us are born addicted to self, that
We’d understand our identity as beloved children and be free.
That identity is a dead child of wrath revived, redeemed, and now beloved because of who God is, not because of who I am. He does not need me. He wants me. His plans are not contingent upon anything I do or fail to do. My participation is an undeserved privilege granted to me as a beloved son. If I rule and reign with Him it is only because my life is in Him. Today, I do not regret the past or wish to shut the door on it because it is covered by the blood of Jesus. Hence, my brokenness has become my blessing, my rap sheet my resume. I don’t need to affirm my or your identity in Him because the “I” is dead or still needs to be slain.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col 3:3
You are a beloved child.