I Reek of My Father

This fourth devotional I wrote a few years back focused on humanity’s bearing what theologians refer to as the Imago Dei, or the image of God.  It’s a powerful concept, one that should give those of us in leadership pause now and again, especially when we encounter recalcitrant members of various worship committees, boards of deacons, or diaconates.  My hope in writing this particular reflection was that the students going overseas might broaden their understanding of what it means to be a child of God.

“You Are Very Much Like Dad!”

Genesis 1: 27 – “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  (NIV)

I’ve got news for you, my friends.  You are becoming, little by little, day by day, sometimes perceptibly and sometimes not but nevertheless very really and truly . . . your same-sex parent.  It hits us at different times, and, depending on the relationship that we have (or had) with our parents, this realization can provoke thoughts that range from mildly annoying to downright dreadful.  Regardless, you have no control over this steady morphing.  Like the ominous “da-da, da-da, da-da, da-da” which signaled the arrival of the shark in the Jaws soundtrack, the doom is inevitable.  Death and taxes have nothing on the inevitability of your turning into your mom, ladies, or your dad, gentlemen.  Although I look nothing like my father, I emulate his personality to such an extent that my brother, several years ago, upon hearing me parrot something that could have come straight from my father’s mouth, was moved to exclaim, “You reek of Dad.”

Psychologists (and not just Freud) have been hip to this for awhile, and the concept has become so pervasive that it has seeped into the mainstream.  Twenty-five years ago, author Nancy Friday wrote the best-seller My Mother/Myself, in which she both lamented and celebrated that her identity was so wrapped up in that of her mother.  My sister, who read the book, fought off the encroaching behavioral proof for years but has recently come to embrace it, to the point where her mantra has become “I’ve given up fighting.”

Thank God that we don’t need ambivalent feelings when it comes to the fact that we are becoming, little by little, day by day, sometimes perceptibly and sometimes not but nevertheless very really and truly . . . more and more like our heavenly Father.  That’s what sanctification is all about.  As James MacDonald has said, “Christianity is a process . . . with progress.”  But what’s true for us as Christians is not completely untrue for non-believers.  Granted, without salvation they will not experience sanctification, but they are, each and every one of them, nevertheless made in the image of God.  And hence there is hope for them.  As Fanny Crosby, the great hymnwriter, reminds us, “The vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.”

As you serve the people of India, may you view them, even the most obviously sinful of them, as reflections of God, created in His image.  Try that at the onset of your trip, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your attitude and behavior.

Prayer for today:

Creator God, who molded and shaped each and every one of us in Your image, cause us to view each other and all we will meet on this trip as Your reflections, that we might afford them the respect and dignity belonging to Your creations, for the sake of Your Son, who died for us all that we all might live.  Amen.

The Lord be with you!

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