Just Like Dad

– Pastor Brandon’s article from the May 2016 Newsletter

The challenges of parenting seem to be endless. Sure, sometimes I like to think I have all the bases covered, but there are always things that pop up that I haven’t prepared for.  For example, I find myself asking the really tough questions like “How can I entertain a 2-year-old while waiting for food at a restaurant?”  The crayons and the coloring page are helpful, but that only lasts so long.  The shortest wait times can still feel like an eternity even with the most well-behaved little one.  Last week after we spent some time coloring, we began rolling the crayons back and forth across the table.  It didn’t take long for that to get out of hand, so I put the crayons aside, and resorted to making faces at the boy.  I don’t know what everyone else around us thought, but we had a great time.  We made fish faces and pouty faces and glasses with our fingers.  Whatever I did, he tried to copy.  My favorite right now is winking. He can’t figure out how to close only one eye, but it sure is cute when he tries.

All of this impresses upon me how much William wants to be like daddy.  He always wants to do what I’m doing, and I have to be on my best behavior when he’s around because he mimics everything I do.  He is very quick to pick up on the littlest things, and I often realize too late that I’ve just done something in front of him that I don’t want him repeating.  On the other hand, it is a lot of fun to see William imitate the right behaviors and attitudes, and Hannah and I rejoice in the process of showing him how to live well.

As I watch William learn from me and follow my example, I’m reminded of how my relationship with God is supposed to look.  In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says it this way:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light  (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  (Ephesians 5:1-10)

In the passage above, we are told to be imitators of God.  We derive our English word “mimic” from the Greek word used here.  Thus, we are called to be like God and do the things that he does.  As his beloved children, we should pay close attention to what our heavenly Father is up to, and we should replicate his attitude and behavior in our lives.  This means walking in the same sacrificial love that Christ displayed when he gave himself for us on the cross.

Paul goes on to warn the Ephesians about the destructive influences of sin, and encourages them to live as children of light.  Take a moment to look over the lists of vices and virtues described in the verses above, and ask, “which one describes me?”  No longer should our lives be characterized by the attitudes and behaviors of darkness.  These things separate us from God and his kingdom.  Instead, as children of light, we should shine forth the goodness, righteousness, and truth of God.

As I scrolled through Facebook this morning, I saw a picture of a little boy and thought “Wow, that kid looks exactly like his father!”  And now, as I sit here meditating on these verses, I’m challenged to take a look at my life and ask, “How much do I look like my Father in heaven?” I want to be a reflection of his light and love.  I long for my life to be a fragrant offering that pleases him. I want to be like Dad.

– Pastor Brandon