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Jim Cymbala speaks at Monday's convocation

January 19, 2009 : Sarah Funderburke

Monday’s convocation message focused on the importance of imitating God. Guest speaker Jim Cymbala drew inspiration for his message from Ephesians 5:1.

"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children."

Cymbala, the senior pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, started his church over 30 years ago with a handful of people, and now over 10,000 people visit the church weekly to hear the message of the Gospel preached. He is the author of several books, including "Fresh Wind Fresh Fire."

King David from the Old Testament is one of the great imitators of God, Cymbala said. David imitated God by loving his enemy, King Saul, despite Saul’s constant persecution of David.

"If you want to be an imitator of God, show kindness to somebody who maybe hasn’t been so nice to you because that’s the way God has been to you," Cymbala said. "Some of the times when we have been furthest from God and not thinking about God, God has been gracious to us, and blessed us and helped us."

Our enemies can be someone who simply annoys us, a family member we are holding a grudge against, or a friend who has angered us. Showing kindness to these people manifests what God does for us every day, Cymbala said, but we also need to fellowship with them.

"God not only wants a relationship with us, he wants fellowship with us," Cymbala said. "I know people in my church that have a mother, but what good is it because they haven’t spoken to her in years?"

Relationships and kindness must include fellowship, Cymbala told students.

"Where would we be if God said, 'I only want to hang around with people who are like me'?" Cymbala said. "There would be no Liberty University; there would be no Brooklyn Tabernacle; there would be nothing. But God says 'No, even though you’re different from me, even though you’re sinful…I love you and I want to bring you to me. I not only want to have a relationship with you, I want to have fellowship.'"