Many years ago, before my biological children were born, we were foster parents for several children who were placed, for a variety of reasons, in a nearby children’s home.
As an “adventure” one weekend, we took our foster children to a Civil War battlefield, complete with canons and stacks of cannonballs. It also had a museum and much for the children to interact with as they learned about what happened at the Chickamauga Battlefield so many years earlier.
When we went to the cashier to pay for our souvenirs, the Park Ranger standing there looked at our family and said to our son, “Boy, you sure look like your Father!” and to our daughter he said “And, you really look like your Mom!” We smiled at him and paid for our goodies, and then left.
In the car, we chuckled about the Ranger’s well-meaning comments. They were especially humorous since both children were in foster care and of no blood relation to us. Furthermore, they were not brother and sister but were from two separate families.
Ultimately, I did have two children, a son and daughter, and when they were in preschool, my husband left us and divorce ensued.
Then the Lord brought Bill into our lives and, 31 years later, we are still married and the “children” (now in their 40s) are very much in love with him.
When Bill had taken our son to the store for some clothing, the cashier looked at the two of them and said “Boy, your sure look like your Father!” Without correcting the clerk, without discussing step-relationships, and without missing a beat, our son said “Yes, I do.”
We were thinking about these comments recently and I wondered if I looked like my Father. Do you?
We have just concluded consideration of just a few of the attributes of God, the Father, and I thought we should bring those discussion down to earth. Do we look like our Heavenly Father?
I know that we cannot be like God, we are merely creatures who are sinful and who live in a fallen world. But some of the attributes that are of God can be found in us if we let Him live in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
For example, Eternality is totally outside of our experience, we are time-bound, temporal, finite. But Mercy is something that we can extend to those who wrong us in some way.
Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence are attributes that no one would ever credit me with having, that’s for sure. They reside within God and are not communicable to either you or me.
Holiness is surely one of the attributes that sets God apart from the sinful creation ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. But, Scripture says that we are to be holy.
“For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.””
“but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.””
1 Peter 1:15-16
I cannot be holy on my own nor can I become holy through any effort or action that I take. I am sinful and will be sinful all my life. But through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, in the eyes of God, I can be holy.
Justice is another attribute of God that is tied to His Holiness. God is repeatedly called Just in Scripture and we are told that His actions are always just.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”
While Justice is an attribute of God’s intrinsic nature, it is also something that we are commanded to be.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Love, the attribute of God’s nature which Jonathan Edwards called “the sum of all Christianity”. God loved us even when we were sinners and unable to approach Him even in prayer. Through the Holy Spirit, we were made part of God’s family because of His love.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul uses the imagery of an olive tree into which branches have been grafted, the tree, rooted in Jesus Christ, is referencing the Jews while the branches that were grafted onto the tree reference the Gentiles.
Adoption is another image presented in Scripture with respect to God’s love. The Amplified Holy Bible renders Ephesians 1:4-6 as follows:
Just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself] [as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].
We have been loved by God, through Christ Jesus, and have been adopted into His family. What does that mean for us here on earth, surrounded by so many who do not know Him? We are to love each other and are to live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ so that men can see Him when looking at us.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
So, the question hangs in the air – do you look like your Heavenly Father?
At church on Sunday morning?
At the supermarket on Tuesday?
At the work meeting where your project is being criticized?
When someone cuts you off on the highway?
When you can’t think because the neighbors’ dogs are barking?
Do you look like your Heavenly Father? Do I?
Father, we so easily call You Father even though we had nothing to do with Your adoption of us. Your grace in giving us eternal life came at the incredible cost of Your Beloved Son’s atoning death. Your mercy was extended to us even while we were still wallowing in our sin. Oh, Father. Your love and compassion is too wonderful for us to comprehend. All we can do is thank You and pray that we would be transformed through Your Spirit into the image of Your Beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we look more and more like Jesus and, thus, more and more like You each day.