We do what we do as God's people because it somehow shapes us to bear more of the image of God in our world. God has commanded us to do what we do for this very reason - it is consistent with His image, of which we are the image-bearers, and it draws us into the heart of God.
But let's not forget that God is not any of the many things He does; He simply is. If we are to be the image of God in the world, we must do less and simply be more.
This is reflected well in the verse that says, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" and also in words like "be holy because God is holy." Because we have so brainwashed ourselves into thinking that life is all about action, we have turned even "perfect" and "holy" into things that we do. As if we could "do" perfect. Or holy, for that matter.
We've turned these words into moral qualities. Holiness is no longer the essence of God; it is the morality of Him. Therefore, if any of us wants to be holy, we must simply do moral and holy things - like love one another, give generously, pray boldly, worship humbly, or a whole host of other activities we might deem holy. If any of us wants to be perfect, we must simply do perfect things - turn away from sin, tell the truth, not screw up. It just feels natural at this point to talk this way, and we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live perfect and holy lives.
It's a dangerous idea. When you think that you must live holy by doing moral and holy things, then it's not long before you start to think that God must be holy when He does moral and holy things. As though the entire nature of God could so easily be articulated. When you think you must be perfect by not screwing up, then you think that God must be perfect simply because He does not make mistakes. When you become perfect and holy on the basis of what you do or do not do in this world, God, too, becomes perfect and holy the same way.
But perfect and holy are not the outerworkings of either God or men; they are the very heart of them.
God is holy simply because He is holy. His actions may reflect His holiness, but they do not define it. The very essence of Him is holy. God is perfect simply because He is perfect. His actions may reflect His perfectness, but they do not define it. The very essence of Him is perfect. And if we are created in the image of God, if we are His image-bearers in the world, then the same is true of us.
We simply are perfect and holy.
And when we talk about being "perfect," we're not really talking about not messing up. That's a different understanding of perfect than we ought to get from the Scriptures. When God says "Be perfect, therefore, because I am perfect," He's talking not about a moral or behavioral quality, but a quality of completeness. Wholeness. Finishedness. He's talking about the idea that there is not one thing that could be added to or taken away from us that would make us more whole. The fullness of who we are is real. It's done. It's perfect. We lack nothing, nor do we have too much. We're perfect.
And if we simply are perfect and holy, then our challenge is not to discipline ourselves into becoming these things by the way we live in the world. That won't do any good. We don't become perfect and holy by living in certain moral ways. No. Our challenge is to live out of the very essence of who we are, out of the very heart of who God is, and to simply be perfect and holy. Every unstrained breath we draw is this very thing: perfect and holy. Every unencumbered gift we give is this very thing: perfect and holy. Every contented step, every perfect peace, every confident assurance is this very thing: perfect and holy. It's who we are when we're not worried about who we are, when we're not trying to be something else. We are perfect and holy, just as our Father is perfect and holy.
It's why we absolutely must stop thinking that we ought to do as God does in the world. That's not what He's called us to. We were never called to do.
We have always been called to be. So be. Be perfect and holy. It's the very essence of who you are, created in the image of God.