Sunday, March 9, 2008

Like the Father

You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that? But you must always act like your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-48 (NCV)

Has anyone ever said, "You're just like your father," or "You're just like your mother." I remember when people would say those things to me, and I immediately shut them down. I loved my dad, and he was a pretty good guy, but I didn't want to grow up to be like him. My dad was old fashioned, close minded, closed lipped, and could be a pretty harsh man. He wasn't always nice to my mom. He sometimes caused me a lot of anger and frustration. I wanted to be different. But people saw in me some characteristics of my dad that I didn't see, or didn't want to see. But I finally came to the realization that I had begun imitating what I had grown up seeing. Recognition is the first step to change. I've been fortunate to be able to change some of the behaviors I had adopted from my dad. I'm thankful to have a loving family that has helped me see what I'm doing and what I could be.

When I became a Christian I didn't realize all that it meant. I got saved primarily so I could go to heaven when I died. I knew it meant that I needed to be a good person, but at the time, I didn't realize that being a follower of Christ meant becoming like Him. Being a Christian means becoming like the Father, because that's the example of Jesus. Jesus set a pretty high standard. especially in the area of relationships.

My earthly father taught me (by example) to avoid the people that didn't like me, (out of sight, out of mind). He taught me to be nice to those who were nice to me, and be friends with those who were friendly to me. For most of my life, that's how I lived... like the world. Then I started taking the Bible seriously, and reading the passages like the one above that revealed a different standard of relationships. I realized I could no longer give others the "cold-shoulder" and be like Jesus. I could no longer look the other way when I encountered people who didn't like me, and be like my Father. I'm still a work in progress, but I understand what it takes to please the Father, and that's all that matters.