You remind me of your Dad
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”1 John 3:1-3 NKJV
“By profession I am a soldier and take great pride in that fact, but I am also prouder, infinitely prouder, to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys.”–General Douglas MacArthur
Like father, like son. We’ve all heard the saying, but is it true? Well, from a human standpoint, there seems to be a lot of truth to it. We are genetically related, so we inherit many physical characteristics. I have brown eyes, I’m tall, and when I look in the mirror I see an image of my dad. He liked politics. I like politics. You get the point. Maybe we can get a hint from Jesus when Philip asked him to show them the Father. Jesus replied, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NKJV) Like Father, like Son.
John tells us that one of the great benefits of being children of God is that He is making us to be like Him. In fact, that is His goal in this whole process. He wants His kids to represent Him well. James said it beautifully: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (18) Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (James 1:16-18 NKJV)
You are born of God because He wanted you. He saved you on purpose. He wants you to be kind of like a firstfruits offering of all the creatures He has made. “Firstfruits” referred to the first of the herd or harvest which was set aside to belong to the Lord. It represented the promise that the rest of the harvest would be blessed by God. He “brought you forth” so your dedicated life would serve as a promise that all the creation will one day be reborn. You are the light of the world. He is the Father of lights. Like Father, like sons.
There is a process of growth that takes place in every organism. The new creature has all the necessary attributes to be like its father, but the process of fulfilling that destiny takes time. As human firstfruits we must learn to overcome our fallen nature and rightly apply our free will in order to resemble our Father more closely. Most of us take a lot of detours on our way to “being like Him.” We make grand promises then fail to follow through. We follow our flesh instead of His Spirit.
Part of the job of any father is to train and correct his children. Our Heavenly father is no different. He corrects us when we mess up and teaches us how to behave in order to become more like Him. Hebrews says it this way:
“If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (8) But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (9) Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? (10) For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness”.Hebrews 12:7-10 NKJV
God chastens you. I know, that’s a scary sounding word, but it just means to teach, train, and correct like a parent does his kids. Notice, you have human fathers, or fathers of your flesh, who corrected you the best they were able. It was often misguided, sometimes selfish, and for some, even cruel. They are human. Now you have committed to follow the Father of spirits. God is spirit and to his spirit kids He provides spiritual correction, instruction, and direction. Let’s take time to examine the differences between human correction and Heavenly correction:
- Your Heavenly Father corrects you because He loves you. Your human father, no matter how wonderful, was limited in his knowledge, sometimes selfish in his motives, and couldn’t see the future to know exactly what methods would be best for your specific personality, perception, and purpose. Your Heavenly Father knows what is best for you, wants only the best for you, knows the best way to communicate with you, and has no self-centered anger or manipulative purpose to inflict on you. Your Daddy loves you, and He is very good at it.
- Your Heavenly Father is making you more like Him. The purpose behind all this teaching, training, and correction is to make you a partaker of His holiness. Holiness is the word that most clearly describes the nature of God. He is different, separate, from His creation. When we partake, or share, in His holiness, we are different from the rest of creation, set apart for the use of our Father God. One translation says He does it so “we may become sharers in His own holy character.” (Hebrews 12:10 Weymouth) Your Daddy loves you, and He wants you to share in His being.
- Your Heavenly Father deals with you in the spirit. Your human father, the father of your flesh, used the methods of the flesh to deal with you. Sometimes yelling, maybe spanking, withholding privileges, or making you sit in your room or miss a meal. Maybe he was physically violent. All those things are human, flesh-driven methods of punishment, not correction. Punishment satisfies the wrath of the offended party. For you, this was accomplished at Calvary. Your Heavenly Father corrects you to alter your behavior or attitude in order that you can receive maximum blessing. He deals with you using spiritual means: The Word of God and the Spirit on the inside of you. Your Daddy loves you, and He will never hurt you.
I want to make this perfectly clear: Your Father loves you. He is not a child abuser. He will not make you sick to teach you, or bring calamity to you or your family to punish you. He will not! He will lovingly instruct you, pick you up if you fall, and remind you of what He has in store for you and your part in it. There are so many instances where the Church has been taught that God is their problem, I don’t now where to begin.
As I meditated on this, I was reminded of a very common story that is used to teach on how God “loves” us. It usually starts when a wayward sheep leaves the flock, rebelliously wandering off on his own. The shepherd repeatedly goes after him, but finally, out of love and a desire to preserve the sheep, he breaks the little lamb’s leg so he can’t get away. The injured sheep is slung over the shepherd’s neck and carried for the several weeks it takes for the leg to heal. All the while the relationship between sheep and shepherd is deepening. Isn’t that sweet?
No, it’s horrible, and it’s not true. No real shepherd would do such a thing. Livestock with broken legs are notoriously hard to save. Most are put down, especially in primitive places like 1st century Palestine. In addition, the average lamb at weaning (when they are able to eat on their own without Mom) weighs somewhere around 45 pounds. I dare you to go do a full day’s work with a wiggly, 45 pound sack draped over your shoulders. Get real!
Illustrations like this are thought up by men to explain away their seeming failures in the realm of healing. We don’t always know the “why” of everything, but we do know that our Father is not breaking our legs, making us sick, or killing our kids. If a human child were kidnapped, physically assaulted, and forcibly bound to his tormentor, that would be felony child abuse. If the child, after an extended time, became emotionally attached to his captor, we would rescue him, diagnose it as Stockholm Syndrome, and send him to a good psychiatrist.
So, God is not going to punish you with physical damage because you are disobedient. He will speak to you from His Word, (2 Timothy 3:16). He will use the Bible as you read it (John 6:63), or use your pastor’s preaching to pierce your heart with truth (2 Timothy 4:1-5). He will bring other believers to you who will teach you with gentleness and patience until you are ready to let the Spirit within make the necessary adjustments. (2 Timothy 2:24-26) He will put trusted leaders and mentors in your life with whom you can be perfectly honest, so they can pray with you to receive the healing that belongs to you. (James 5:14-16)
Here’s the point: Your Heavenly Father is using the supernatural tools that are His as the Father of spirits to mature you and guide you into His own image. He uses His Word and His Spirit to teach, train, and correct. He does not injure you or torment you. You can trust Him absolutely because He is good and He loves you. Jesus said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” That is reassuring: Jesus is a Healer, not a torturer. Even more encouraging is the realization that your Father wants you to one day be able to say, with humble confidence, that “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Like Father, like son.
NEXT STEPS: Nearly all of us have been programmed to believe things about the Father that are simply not true. He is not making you sick, He is healing you. He is not making you poor, He is teaching you to prosper. Jesus said that He was the visible, human image of what the Father is like. For the next week, read through the 4 Gospels and see what Jesus was like in his dealings with the sick and the distressed. How did He treat the sinner and the tax collector? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal things about the Father as you observe the Son.