Being a Child of God: "You Are Just Like Your Father"
The man in this life that I address as father has absolutely no genetic connection to me. He is my step-father. He is a man that I love dearly and a father that has helped me grow in this life. He has always been a great example to me of patience, diligence, generosity and kindness. He taught me critical life skills from financial planning to changing tires. In his golden years he has taught me the power of love and the beauty of being a grandparent. He has shown me perseverance and endurance when facing the challenges of aging. Through all of this, he is my dad.
When I was a young boy my cat climbed into an open register of our new house and she was stuck in the duct pipe. It was his hug that calmed me down and it was his effort that saved the distraught kitty. Now that I am a parent, it is still his fatherly hug and his wisdom that I long for. He is a great man and the most influential role model in my life. When I grow up, I want to be just like him. The greatest compliment that has ever been paid me is when my mother said I was just like my stepdad, my father.
As significant and influential as my father is my life, there is an even greater, more wonderful and perfect role model that I long to be exactly like: my heavenly Father.
In Matthew 5:48, our Savior concludes His exhortation to the listener regarding being different from the world and to hold ourselves to a higher standard than that of man by saying, “Therefore, you are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The profoundness of that statement is almost overwhelming. It is not a call to something unattainable but rather a call to be “complete.” Namely, it is a call to be in the Father and to let the Father rule in you.
We can never be complete outside of Him (Colossians 2:9-15). To become more like the Father is not some magical event but rather a process of learning His ways, His traits and His methods. Just as we learn skills from our earthly fathers (either biological or adoptive), in a far greater way we learn eternal and spiritual skills from our heavenly Father.
To learn, though, means we must be willing to be taught. To be willing to be taught means that we will have to do some work. I did not learn how to be like my father instantaneously. I have had the blessing of spending years with him. I have had the privilege to listen to him and hear about his experiences to glean from his wisdom. Through those experiences I have gained knowledge. I know what my father would do in certain scenarios and I apply that knowledge to my own decisions.
The process of learning to be like our heavenly Father is no different. To be like Him, we must know Him. To know Him, we must be willing to study Him. We have the blessing to spend not just this life with Him, but all eternity. We have the privilege to read His Word and to learn about His awesome power and His perfect plan. By learning from Him, we can gain true wisdom. We can ask Him for guidance and direction, and we can tell Him about our successes and failures.
As I have grown older, I find myself more and more relaying the teachings of my father to my children. I share his wisdom with them in hopes that they will learn from it too and thrive in this life. When they interact with their grandfather, they see where I learned; they see the consistency in our actions. While our earthly fathers are still imperfect, our heavenly Father is perfect. While our earthly fathers share with us their experience so that we can benefit from those teachings in this life, our heavenly Father shares with us the perfect truth, a truth that has no failings. And just as we imitate our earthly fathers when we learn from them, we will imitate our heavenly Father when we learn from Him. When we apply His teachings in our lives, then we will demonstrate to others His influence in our lives (I Corinthians 11:1).
While being told that I was just like my father was the greatest compliment ever paid me, the far greater compliment in this life is to be called a Christian. Not because I wear some nametag or because I belong to the right congregation, but because I have learned to think and act just like my heavenly Father (Galatians 2:20). When we continue growing in Him on our journey home, then the world around us will see Him living in us and they will know that we are a child of God.