"So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." Matthew 9:38
I love being the father of four boys. They all want to be like their daddy in their own ways. Andy who is seven years old, and my oldest, watches my every move. Particularly in the areas pertaining to how I take care of myself. I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater. Not because I want to be Mr. Olympia, or because I’ve been ordered by my doctor to follow a certain diet. I eat healthy because I want to take care of the temple God has given me, and because I’m one of those weird dudes that actually likes fruits and vegetables. So while Andy’s younger brothers delight in any and everything chocolate that they can find, Andy will always watch to see what daddy is eating before choosing his snack. If Im blending up a smoothie, he is my only child that will request that I make him one as well, even if it has spinach in it. Whether he truly enjoys my daily spinach smoothies, Im not sure. But regardless, he always has to have the same things I have for a meal, because he wants to be like his daddy.
Lincoln who is five years old and my middle child wants to be like his daddy in different ways. I drive a pretty old truck. It whines when its running, it leaks when its raining, and if you turn the steering wheel all the way to the right or turn the air conditioner up above notch number two, it will cut off. But other than this tiny issues, its a great truck. Needless to say, my truck is not as comfortable to ride in as my wife’s cozy mini van complete with a nifty DVD player that they kids can watch while traveling. But anytime our family goes somewhere and has to take both our vehicles, Lincoln always wants to ride with me. He loves my truck. And when we are together in the truck, he brags aloud how he and I are men for riding in the truck instead of the van. I know, and Lincoln knows that riding in mommies van would be more comfortable and entertaining for him. But he is happy to set aside those comforts in order to spend time with me. Because he wants to be like his daddy.
Abel and Luke are my two year old twin baby boys. Abel is my passive child. At night, while the other three boys are busy playing together in their rooms with toys, Abel refuses to join in with his brothers. Instead, Abel will come over to my recliner where I usually will sit, and curl up in my lap to watch an episode of Micky Mouse Clubhouse. He would have so much more fun running around the house with this brothers and playing with all of their toys. But at night, he wants to be where I am. Because he wants to be like his daddy.
Luke is no different. I have a hat. I know you may be thinking, “Everyone has hats.” But I have one of ‘those’ hats. A hat that much like my truck, is old and worn, but never the less its the one hat I love to wear. And whenever Luke sees me with my hat, he runs to his room and gets one of his older brothers baseball hats and proudly wears it on his little head….even if it does keep falling down into his eyes. I know constantly pushing those hats out of his eyes is a pain. It would be so much easier to just take the hat off, at least until his head grew enough to fill them out. But Luke is the happiest when he sees me wearing my hat, and when he is then also wearing his. Because just like all my sons, he wants to be like his daddy.
A son will naturally want to be like his father, regarding that the father is a loving father towards his children. That’s just our nature. We gravitate towards those who show affection towards us, and due to that affection, we admire them and want to be like them. That is why in the case of a loving father, his sons will look at him as their hero. 1 John chapter 3 describes God and our relationship with Him in much the same way. I only want to examine the first three verses of 1 John 3 in light of scripture…..
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”1 John 3:1.
The scriptures describe Christians or followers of Christ as “children of God.” He is our Heavenly Father, and He is a good, loving Father. In fact, regardless of how good your earthly father may have been to you and how much he may have showered you with love, God the Father’s love is indeed much greater than we could ever imagine. In fact, Matthew says it like this….
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11.
No matter how good we are, at our very core we are sinful creatures. We are evil in our thoughts and actions. John Calvin described this human commonality as total depravity. We are not sinners because we sin. Rather, we sin because we are sinners. Its our inherited nature passed down from our first parents, Adam and Even in their fall into sin described in Genesis. Therefore, even the best of human fathers has a depraved and sinful nature. If this were not true, then we would have no need for a savior, because we would possess the ability to save ourselves with our goodness. But that’s another blog for another day.
The scripture in Matthew points out that if a man who is good in the worlds eyes has the capacity to give love and good things to his sons, how much greater is the capacity for a Holy and perfect Heavenly Father who knows no evil to give good things to those whom He calls His children? Now look back at 1 John 3:1. “See what kind of love the Father has given?” That in spite of our sinful, rebellious nature, God the Father would choose to adopt us into His family and call us sons!
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:4.
Remember, we were not born into the family of God. As is pointed out in Genesis, we were born into sin. No one is born into God’s family. God in His great love and mercy, chooses to adopt some….
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13.
A child who is adopted into a family doesnt have the liberty of choosing their family. It is the parents who choose the child. One of the greatest mysteries of scripture is how God saves and calls men. It is a wildly popular yet unbiblical belief among many evangelicals that we as humans possess the ability within us to “decide” or “chose” Jesus to be our Father. This belief totally disregards literally hundreds of passages of scriptures that describe us as broken and unable to do anything but sin without Jesus. As CS Lewis said, we are like dirty children living in the getto, in desperate need of adoption into a good family. And if you are a person that clings to this false doctrine of human decision regarding God, look back at the verse above in John 1:12-13. It states among other things…..”we are God’s children, not born of human decision, but born of God!”
Even though we didn’t inherit the righteous nature of God, because of his great love toward us, we fight against our flesh and forsake the temptations to live like the world, because we as redeemed children of God have a greater desire to be like our daddy. We want more than anything to mimic and be like our Heavenly Father. And this Father/ son description is carried further as we continue examining 1 John 3…
1 John 3:1-2, “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
I hear so many slams against people that are truly living for their Heavenly Father. Names like ‘Jesus Freak’, or ‘Bible Thumper’ are used by the world to label believers who are striving to be like their Father in Heaven. And as Christians, being called these names can be hurtful and down right frustrating. We as believers want unbelievers to understand why we are different. We want them to understand the joys of not giving in to the flesh and living in sin. We want to be accepted. But the world will never accept us, because the world never accepted Him. And this is especially true of a Christian who revels so much in the love of his Heavenly Father that they would rather walk in the footsteps of Christ instead of what is deemed popular and the norm in our current post modern culture.
Our goal as believers should never to be try and get the world to understand us. Because the reason the world doesn’t understand us, is because it doesn’t know Him. If someone makes fun of a Christian for being who they are in Christ, its not necessarily a slam against them to be taken personally. Because lets face it, humanity tends to make fun of things that they don’t understand, and things that deep down convict them. My goal as a Christian shouldn’t be to get my secular friends to know and understand Charlie. My goal should be to get them to know and understand Jesus. Because only when a person understands Jesus will they then understand Christianity. But look at the next part of the verse….
1 John 3:2, ” Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
What will will be has not yet appeared. The scripture speaks of the believer’s glorified state in eternity. We have no idea what that will be like. As sons of God, we will one day be like Jesus. But He who we will one day be like has not yet appeared to us in His eternal state. I personally cannot imagine life without sin. Life without conviction and daily need for repentance. The verse goes on to say that on that day we will be like our Heavenly Father….perfect, sinless, and eternal. And the reason for this is because finally then, we will be able to see God’s plan as he sees it. All the things we don’t understand about God will be made known. Just as a father teaches a son the reasoning behind why he does certain things when the boy reaches a certain point in life, so our Heavenly Father will make known many of the mysteries of His ways when we stand before Him in glory.
This verse is so much deeper than a quick first glance. We will one day understand, because we will view our lives on earth as Jesus has viewed them. The scriptures speak of tears being wiped away from our faces in Heaven by our Father. There is no doubt in my mind those will be great tears of regret shed abundantly by each and every child of God. Because for the first time, we will see things not in our worldly perspective, but through the eyes of the loving Father that we at times rebelled against. You’ve heard of children growing up and looking back at how rebellious they were to their parent in their youth, and upon gaining wisdom, apologizing to their parents for the pain they caused them. I believe when we meet Jesus face to face, it will be much the same way.
I know for a fact that when I stand before my Heavenly Father, I will not regret that I didn’t make more money in my earthly life. I will not regret that I didn’t sew more of my wild oats while I was young. My sole regret standing before the Father in eternity will be that I did not live more radically for Him while I had breath. I will greatly regret with tears streaming down my face that I did not pray more, serve more, and sacrifice more worldly comforts in exchange for being like my Heavenly Father. And for the first time, standing before King Jesus….face to face, my heart will be utterly pierced by the reality and the depth of love on Calvary. It is there before my Father that I believe I will just begin to wrap my mind around His sacrifice on the cross. The fact that He died for me, and was punished for my transgressions….because of His great love for His children. To close out, lets look at verse 3…..
“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3.
God uses certain terms to describe His children all throughout scripture. He uses words like spotless, blameless, and Holy. The word ‘Holy’ literally means to be different. The Hebrew definition means “to separate.” In the case of a Christian, it means to be separate from the world. So if a person is claiming to be a Christian, yet the willingly live an unholy lifestyle, meaning they continue sinning while knowing its wrong, then the correct conclusion would be that they are not truly Christians. Some would say that is judgmental and that we are not to judge. True. But we can inspect fruit (Matthew 7). And if God says that His children are Holy, it is only logical that a person living an unholy lifestyle doesn’t possess the traits of those that are identified as children of God!
Being Holy doesn’t mean that a Christian is called to be perfect. We are to desire to be like our Heavenly Father more than anything, but in our flesh we will fall short at times. But the difference is that a person who is not a child of God will be able to continue on in their sin. Even if they know its wrong, they will not be broken over it. Their self gratification will be far more important. But to a Christian, living like Jesus will be of First Importance! And when a Christian falls into sin, they will be broken hearted. Just as a toddler desires to walk, at times, the child will stumble. The child is heart broken over his fall and disappointed that he at times falls. But the Father of that child knows that the toddler’s one desire is to walk like daddy. And in love, the Father picks the child up, and encourages him to keep walking.
The scripture calls a Christian to strive to keep him or herself pure. Just as a person invited to a grand ball wouldn’t show up without looking their best, so we as believers have been invited to our Fathers wedding supper of the Lamb. Isaiah describes the supper as one that will have the best meats and wines. Zephaniah says that at this Feast, the Lord will no longer rebuke us, but instead, rejoice in song over His children. That is why in Romans 8, Paul says that there is no condemnation in Christ! In Jesus, we no longer stand condemned, but now justified in Him!
So what do you do when you know what is right in your mind, but your heart just won’t sink up with that? What do you do when you know there is sin in your life that has not been addressed, and your heart is torn between following Jesus and fulfilling the desires of the flesh? There is a phrase that is used over and over in the scriptures….”Wait on the Lord.”
Waiting on the Lord can be excruciatingly difficult. In fact in one of the most heart wrenching Psalms in the Bible, David is dealing with this issue and actually on the verge of fighting with himself.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…”Psalm 42:5.
To put it in modern terms, David is saying to himself, “Why are you so downcast my soul? Why do you keep being drawn to these cheap sinful ways that never lead to joy?? Why do you keep falling into the same trap over and over!!!” And David then tells himself, “Put your hope in God!!!”Have you ever been in that place? Have you ever felt the disconnect between what that mind knows to be right and the wicked ways the heart continues to chase?
So what do you do when you experience these season of disconnect? For the child of God, you wait on the Lord while you press into Christ and His word ever harder, striving with all your might to surround yourself with Him and hunger to walk in obedience. And why would you deny your flesh? Why would you be still and just wait on the Lord? Because you are lost without your Father. And you know that He loves you.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”Isaiah 40:31.
We want to be like our Heavenly Father. And in times of trial, we press further into Him. We wait on the Lord. Because we know that for those that wait and hope in the Lord, He will renew their strength, and mount them up on wings like eagles. And there will come a day when they will not be faint under the pressures of sin, but walk in the footsteps of their daddy.