In our first reading today (1 Samuel 17) we have the wonderful story that has inspired every boy’s (and girl’s?) imagination—David and Goliath. At the end of the chapter, there is an exchange that occurs between king Saul and his army commander, Abner, concerning David. David is summoned and stands before king Saul:
“Whose son are you, young man?” Saul asked him” (1 Samuel 17 v 58)
It is a timeless question which each person wanting to be a disciple of Jesus must answer—‘whose child are you?’
In his gospel, the apostle John describes the realities of Jesus status as the Son of the living God. Consider these references:
· “…I am not alone. I stand with the Father who sent me….I am the one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father who sent me” (John 8 vv 16-18)
· “You do not know me or my Father, if you knew me, you would know my Father also” (v 19)
· “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (vv 28, 29)
· “I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence…” (v 38)
· “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God….He sent me” (v 42)
· “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim is your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him….I do know him and obey His word” (vv 54-56)
Jesus claim in this record is that God is his Father and that is demonstrated by the fact that he ALWAYS does what is pleasing to his Father and that his obedience is the evidence of the relationship that he bears to God—he is indeed the Son of God!
But having seen THE Son in all his majesty, the New Testament is rich with its expectation that there are other children who share this remarkable relationship. In today’s New Testament reading in Matthew 6, Jesus repeatedly describes God as OUR Father (see vv 1, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18 [x2] 26 and 32)! There is a relationship into which God has called us—we are His children, HE is our Father.
Paul in his letters also draws attention repeatedly to this exalted position. For example, in the letter to the Roman believers he says:
“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (ch 8 vv 14-16).
Children take on the characteristics of their parents—they are often bear a physical resemblance to one or both of their parents. But something else happens as well. The little boy in the photo loved his daddy. There used to be a photo of him striding out behind in the footsteps of his father, who was wearing a similar type of trousers. The little boy had his hands and arms thrust in behind the ‘bib’ of the trousers. He did so, because that is where his father walking ahead had placed his hands and arms. Children imitate or mimic their father or mother.
Paul uses this natural law in the following text:
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore as dearly loved children and walk in love” (Ephesians 4 v 31—5 vv 1, 2).
Paul’s use of the word ‘follow’ is a word in the Greek language which is the same as an ‘imitator’ or ‘mimic’. If God is our Father, Paul tells the Ephesians, then we should mimic His behaviour. We should act just like Him! Initially our imitation of our Father might be intermittent and imperfect, but as God’s ways are practised and habits are formed with His help, change will occur and we will reflect our heavenly Father. Because he is kind, compassionate and forgiving, so will His children be in their behaviour!
The apostle John seems to hint at this change:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called ‘children of God’! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now are we the children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure” (1 John 3 vv 1—3).
God will not make his children like Jesus, when he appears, if we are not like him now. If we are God’s children, then we will think, speak and act like him, NOW. We will bear the same image and likeness as the Son, who also bore the image and likeness of his Father. It cannot be otherwise.
Sadly, the converse is also true. In the chapter in John’s gospel (ch 8) to which we have already referred, Jesus condemns the Jews with whom he was engaged in these terms:
“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” (vv 43, 44)
In his first letter John repeats the idea when he writes:
“Those who are born of God will not continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: those who do not do what is right are not God’s children; nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters” (1 John 3 vv 9, 10).
So dear fellow disciple, as we start another week, the question is ‘out there’ and waiting your answer!
“Whose child are you?”
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