Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Chip Off the Old Block

“If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:29

We, the Coleman family, are a family of giants. My husband, sons, and daughter are all six feet or taller. I am the shortie in the family at 5’8”. Everyone looks up to us. I mean that in a purely literal sense. Whenever a line is made from shortest to tallest, a Coleman always stands at the rear. We are in the back row of all group photos. Purchasing long enough pant legs and coat sleeves is a never-ending challenge. And our shoe sizes are equivalent to small canoes.

So you can imagine our relief when our son Adam brought the love of his life home to meet the family. Ruth is a good foot shorter than most of us. We are delighted to know her shorter genes are now added to the family DNA. Maybe my grandchildren will stand a chance at normal height. Be in the middle of the line instead of at the end. Be able to buy clothes in a regular store.

The fact is, children’s physical characteristics are directly inherited from their parents. When I was teaching, I could almost pick my students’ parents out of a crowd. It was always fun to meet the parents after getting to know the child for several months. Mannerisms, facial expressions, and even the way a parent laughed were often already familiar to me as seen in their offspring. I can certainly see my husband and myself in different ways in each of my own children.

In addition, many of our traits get echoed in our children’s behavior as they strive to imitate us. My daughter wanted to do everything I did when she was little. She wanted to wear my makeup, use my soap, and do my chores. Once, when she was two, I came into the bathroom and found her brushing between her toes with my toothbrush. My husband consoled me, saying, “Julie, she just wants to be you.” Great. I just wished she wanted to be me with someone else’s toothbrush.

In Matthew 5:48, Jesus told His disciples: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The above passage from 1 John is just one of five in that epistle that give us a clear picture of what the offspring of the Father should look like.

1 John 3:9 No one who is born of God keeps on habitually doing sin.
1 John 4:7 Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
1 John 5:4 Whoever is born of God overcomes the world.
1 John 5:18 No one who is born of God sins.

Look at the positive verbs. Loves, believes, and overcomes. If we are born of God, we should be displaying those characteristics. None of them are easy to do. Yet if we have been born of God, they should begin to come somewhat naturally to us. We have been made a new creation.

While we remain in our physical bodies, our sin nature coexists with the new creation. So it is a battle to imitate our heavenly Father at times. Yet something mysterious has taken place in us. We are not the same. We may retain the old sinful nature, but we are no longer slaves to it. Instead, we consider that part of ourselves dead. Romans 6:6 tells us that “our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”

As we learn to crucify who we were before our salvation, we gradually take on more and more likenesses to our heavenly Father. Out with the old, in with the new. It is a bit like the process in which petrified wood is formed. As molecule by molecule of the organic wood is replaced by molecules of inorganic rock, the substance is gradually transformed. Its appearance is very similar to the original. But in reality, it has been totally altered. What was once a piece of wood has become a chunk of solid rock.

Don’t be discouraged if you still see too much of the old you and not enough of your Father in yourself. Just keep taking the baby steps of making daily decisions to die to yourself and live for Jesus Christ. His desire is to make you talk, live, love, and act like one of the family. So He will put circumstances into your life to bring about that change. Eventually people will be able to look at us and see Jesus. And they will know exactly who our heavenly Father is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you for this post!