Sunday, August 6, 2017
Acting Like Your Father?
John 8:39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are indeed doing what your father does.” They said to him, “We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word. 44 You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.”
The Jews were proud of their heritage and they could trace their roots back to Abraham. Jesus really touched a nerve when he began questioning their behavior. If they were truly Abraham’s children they would be acting like Abraham who had great fear of and respect for God. Because they weren’t acting like Abraham, Jesus told them they were actually children of Satan. That didn’t go over very well and ultimately they tried to stone him for accusing them of behaving like the devil.
Our heavenly Father’s expectation is that we will respond as children who are so deeply engaged in relationship with the Father that we will reflect family attributes. In other words, we act like we belong to the family.
When we carry the family name of “Christian” there is an expectation of behavior. We can bear the name as much as we want, but if we are not acting like our heavenly Father, no one is going to believe that we are Christians! Jesus didn’t believe that the Jews were children of Abraham because they weren’t acting like Abraham! Our actions speak much louder than our words and we cannot simply embrace the outward appearance of Christianity on a surface level and think that we are convincing the world that we love and follow God.
This passage does not lead us to a group of unbelievers, but to those who thought that they were sincerely following God. Somewhere along the way they had become distracted by the outward appearances and legalism of their faith. Stuck within the boundaries of their own making they couldn’t actually act like their heavenly Father. They had created a god in the image of their own set of rules. We can find ourselves in the very same place when we begin to define church, worship and Christian behaviors in very rigid and particular ways. When we become judgmental of all of those who do not fit our template for Christianity we may just discover that the template is all about us and not about Jesus. The Jews’ template had been formed by their own structures and somewhere along the way they lost their relationship to their heavenly Father.
We are blessed to be called children of God, and as such we are to act like God’s children. It is in our deeply personal and corporate relationship to God that we become formed and out of that formation comes our action. Only when we truly know the Father can we take on the Father’s attributes and live in this world acting like our heavenly daddy.
Lord, please draw me near to you today and form me in ways I never imagined. Amen.