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Feb 05, 2023

The Dance & Desire

The Dance & Desire

Passage: Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Song & Dance - The Gospel Melody that Moves in Ephesians

Keywords: love, god, offering, imitator

It would probably astonish us to discover how much of what we think, feel, and do is less by choice than by examples we internalized. To appeal to a particular school of thought, we are “expert imitators,” replicating what we see modeled before us. What does it mean to be an “imitator of God,” as Paul exhorts?

Readings & Scripture

PREPARATION: Exodus 15:11-13
LEADER: Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.

ALL: “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

LEADER: And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

ALL: Thanks be to God.

CENTRAL TEXT: Ephesians 4:32-5:2
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

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.

BENEDICTION: 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15
LEADER: Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
ALL: For we are the aroma of Christ to God. Amen!

Additional Resources

Related Scriptures

  • Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18, 25
  • Psalm 40:6
  • Matthew 3:17
  • John 12:45; 14:9
  • Galatians 2:20
  • Philippians 4:18 / 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
  • 1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; Hebrews 6:11
  • Hebrews 7:26-27


  1. Can you remember a time when you ended up doing something or wanting something mostly because someone else did or wanted the same? Why do you think that was?
  2. Scripture refers often to loving God, following God, fearing God, and obeying God. What’s unique about Paul saying we are to be “imitators of God”? 
  3. Two part question:
    1. Who in this world would you say has loved you best– if (inevitably) imperfectly? What if any effect(s) on you has your confidence in their love had? Try to offer examples of those effects. Why do you think their love has had that effect? 
    2. A more difficult and perhaps (too) personal question; answer if you are comfortable. Who in this world has wrought the most difficulty–even harm–for you? That is, who–or even what experiences–has done the most to make you hold with suspicion the claim in Christ that you are “beloved children” (v. 1)? Have you processed any of that–worked through any of that? If so, how so? Have you applied the claims of the gospel on those deep-seated parts that feel poisoned? How so?
  4. How is the love of God in Christ meant to influence the command to imitate God in His love? How does that console and how does it compel? How is the promise of love and His command to love inseparably linked?
  5. For the many faults of the church why is our vital connection to it–like that of a family–so crucial to both imitating God and also doing so as someone confident in the love of God in Christ?


InView Media Album 02.05.2023



  • Imitation . . . plays a central role in learning to dance and the acquisition of the long sequences of choreographed movements are dependent on social learning. These and other lines of evidence suggest that dancing may only be possible for humans because its performance exploits existing neural circuitry employed in imitation. The Evolution of Dance
  • Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind. Rene Girard
  • Human beings are expert imitators. Science has shown that we are the most imitative creatures on the planet, and we imitate in a far more complex, symbolic way than any known animal. While we are good at imitating the speech and fashions of others, Girard’s discovery was that humans imitate the very desires of other people. . . .imitation paved the way for non-stop comparison and attempts to differentiate ourselves from others. Luke Burgis
  • Humans are great imitators. We see someone do something interesting, beautiful, funny, or provoking, and we try to recreate that thing. But because we are so impressionable and so willing to imitate that which we take in, Scripture cautions us to be thoughtful about what we choose to fix our attention upon. Anne Kerhoulas
  • Inception is a parable of human weakness. Inception’s premise is not that there are enemies that utterly rob us of agency; it’s that our desires, particularly to escape the given world and construct our own, are what really oppress us. . . .The primary oppression in this movie is self-oppression: being held hostage by one’s own trauma, or nostalgia, or ambition. Samuel James
  • . . .love is giving your heart without expectation. Miguel’s mother in This is Us
  • Christianly the emphasis does not fall so much upon to what extent or how far a person succeeds in meeting or fulfilling the requirement, if he actually is striving, as it is upon his getting an impression of the requirement in all its infinitude so that he rightly learns to be humbled and to rely upon grace. To pare down the requirement in order to fulfill it better (as if this were earnestness, that now it can all the more easily appear that one is earnest about wanting to fulfill the requirement) — to this Christianity in its deepest essence is opposed. No, infinite humiliation and grace, and then a striving born of gratitude — this is Christianity. Søren Kierkegaard, Journals and Papers
  • Live slowly enough to be able to think deeply about God. J.I. Packer (HT: Justin Messer)