Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Gospel As “White Noise”

I came across this quote today and found it very helpful. I thought the author’s illustration of “white noise” was all to true. Below the quote is a more technical note about the passage. I have placed it at the bottom so it would not distract from the thrust of this quote.

So here is a passage (Eph 5:1) that probably many of you are already familiar with. The passage is: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Now, when you read that passage, Eph 5:1, what do you see there? Many of us when we read that passage, we think, “Alright, all that passage is saying is that somehow I am supposed to imitate God,” which of course ought to be a daunting task no matter what. But we frequently miss much of what is there. So what does it mean to imitate God, and how would you implement this command? Perhaps you might read Eph 5:1 and say, “Alright, there is a command from Paul, the Holy Spirit. I am supposed to imitate God. So let me think about the different characteristics of God, and then every month perhaps I’m going to look at one of those characteristics and try to imitate God.” And while there is nothing wrong with doing that, I think we are missing a lot of what is there in that command.

A number of years ago I used to live next to the I-15 in California, which is one of the most traveled freeways in the world. We lived within about a quarter of a mile of that freeway, and after we had lived there for a while, I didn’t hear it anymore. That noise from the I-15 became white noise, and I was actually glad for that because I didn’t want to listen to it. But on the other hand, it got me to thinking about what other things in my life were white noise. What I want to say to you today and what I hope you understand is that a lot of times when we read Scripture, much of the things that are in Scripture become white noise to us. We think we understand them, we think we know about them. I think when we think about the gospel in particular, the gospel becomes white noise to us. And so what we’re going to do over the next few moments is just think about how to change that thought of the gospel of being sort of peripheral—something we think we already know, we don’t need to go back there—and instead bring it forward in our consciousness.[1]

Technical note:

The translation that the author is using is the ESV. Where Ephesians 5:1 in the ESV reads, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” The KJV reads, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;” The word “imitators” stuck me funny so I did some digging into the Greek.

What I found was that the Greek word is μιμηταὶ (μιμητής) is the word from which we get our English word mimic. The word is used 7 times and means to imitate[2] The Greek word normally used for follower is ἀκολουθέω and it is used 86 times in the New Testament. Paul and Peters use of μιμητής is clearly unique and deserves some special thought.


1 Co 4:16

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

1 Co 11:1

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Eph 5:1

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

1 Th 1:6

And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

1 Th 2:14

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

Heb 6:12

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

1 Pe 3:13

And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

[1] Elyse Fitzpatrick, CO111 Gospel-Centered Counseling, Logos Mobile Education (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

[2] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 652.

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