Paul sees a clearly marked divide between living all things human and being imitators of God. Though it seems that many people live in the in-between zone (unbelievers living good lives and believers living in the tension of compromised faith and secular values), Paul holds his ground. The in-between world is both an illusion and a delusion. Unbelievers gain no eternal proceeds from a life of goodness, and believers only secure judgment on themselves for every portion of their heavenly treasures they sell in exchange for the kitsch of worldly pleasures. The in-between land is all smoke and mirrors, deceit and futility. Why would a Christian value so strongly their BC life—“before Christ”? They would cherish it only because they have never been transformed by the renewing of their minds. They have not seen the true worth of the treasure hidden in the field or grasped the change God offers to us.
Think of it this way. God comes into your life and empties it out like a hollowed-out pumpkin or a house that has been gutted to the external studs. Imagine the insides of your body scraped clean so that you are nothing but skin. And into your empty shell God comes and fills you to the full—every inch and crevice. You no longer think the way a human thinks—you have the mind of God. Your hands are not your own, but His hands. Your feet, His feet. Your heart, His heart. You say only what He would say, and go only where He would go. You are His presence in your sphere of relationships and duties. You are crucified with Christ, nevertheless you live! But it’s not really you the way you used to be, but Christ lives in you. And the life that you now live in the flesh you live by faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2.20).
It is with this picture in mind that Paul says, “Be imitators of God, and live like Christ.” God is your sustenance, your strength, and your vitality—He is the very life inside you. How can there be any hint of immorality, impurity or impropriety? How can there be anything but what is noble, right, and pure? There is no in-between world. There’s only full inheritance or separation, blessing or wrath, discipleship or disobedience, darkness or light.
There is no reason to try to live in temporary pleasures when God offers joy, no reason to live for the moment when God invites you to abundant life. We must learn to think rightly.
By conscious decision and commitment we have left the inadequate world of shadows and normal humanity behind. Maybe that was good enough for us at one time, but now a whole new world has been opened to us to explore and enjoy—a life that sets us free, enriches us, and clarifies our thinking. We grow to understand that our former way of life and thinking were just misguided and delusional, focused in the wrong direction and seeking unsuitable ends. What were we thinking? But Paul also wants us to consider, “What are you thinking now that that’s so desirable and valuable to you?” It’s like the Israelites wanting to go back to Egypt, like the rich young ruler turning away from Jesus. All such fallacies and fantasies will be exposed for the foolhardiness that they are. Wake up!
Instead, live in the wisdom of God, not of the world, making every second count for eternity. Is that too intense for you, too difficult, too demanding? Then be filled with the Spirit and let Him live inside you, filling every inch and cavity. Let Him be your mind, your words, your hands and feet. Let His ways be your ways, and His thoughts your thoughts. Your life will burst forth in gratitude and song, rising from one crescendo to another. Your will easily see that your light and momentary struggles don’t begin to compare with the glory that far outweighs them all.