Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Mystery of Imitation - We Reproduce What We Are

"Be imitators of God, as beloved children."
Ep 5:1

There is an exceptionally powerful and mysterious link between knowing you are loved and becoming like the one loving you. This is most clearly seen in the parent - child relationship, and it has nothing to do with a shared DNA. It has to do with the way God has made the world, and the way He has wired the family for covenant. For our children's sake, let's not be ignorant of this beautiful reality. It is in the parent - child bond that children first learn, and these lessons are the foundation laid for how they will understand every other relationship they have in this life, including the one they have with God. Our children are students of us. God has made it so. May He grant us  the grace to teach and model well (Ep 6:4).

As I am writing this, my son Joah, who is 3, just came over to me and said, "Daddy, do you know I love you?" God is teaching me even in these very moments of contemplation. He is validating what is written here, I think. My dearly loved son loves me. And he desperately wants to be like me, because he is proud of me, for reasons I don't fully comprehend. I am reminded of a few ways he makes this known, as the pictures below will show.

Joah arranged the floss, his next to mine.

Joah arranged these too.

Joah wanted his grill next to my grill. . .

And his mower, and shoes, next to my mower and shoes.

Parents often wonder how it is, when their children disappoint them, that the children could behave in such a wrong way. The answer to that question is not always simple. But I think it normally has something to do with us, the parents. And perhaps it's often true that the failure is not in what we have done, but in what we haven't done. We haven't modeled and taught biblical godliness. Instead, we've modeled and taught morality, worldly success, and culturally acceptable behaviors. So we raise children that believe that God exists for them, and that He is most interested in their comfort and happiness instead of their character and holiness; He's a therapist then, and not a King. We raise legalists who relate to God by keeping rules as if those rules are arbitrary and not reflective of a Person who loves them.

It is certain that their mowers and grills are not the only things our children are lining up next to ours. Yes, their ways of thinking, believing, behaving, and relating are there also. Because day by day, we are reproducing what we are. May God help us.

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