Born, Not Borrowed

Not everyone has the best of parents. Hope as we might, we can’t exchange them for a better pair. But what if we thought we could?

Imagine a young man who encounters someone he thinks would make a terrific parent. Reasonable, loving, and patient, with a keen sense of justice, the candidate parent seems like he would be just the sort of father the young man has always yearned for.

What if the young man begins to imitate his newfound “father?” Mimicking his facial features, dressing in similar attire, and adopting his gait as he strolls along, the boy begins to think of himself as the man’s son. Before long, the young man shows up at the older man’s door, ready to sit down at the dinner table with the man’s family.

 Of course, the old man will have none of it. Before the boy can place a napkin on his lap, the older man hustles the want-to-be child out the door. As the impostor is leaving the table, he notices the gentleman’s stunned children sitting at their plates. While they all bare a slight resemblance to the older man, none wears the same clothing as their father. In fact, they seem entirely unlike the gentleman he has adopted to be his Dad.

Nonetheless, the old man seems not to notice how different his children appear. They bare none of the dignity, wisdom, and authority that has drawn the boy to their father. And yet, there they sit, as comfortable with the old man as he is with them. Bewildered, the boy stands in the street, perplexed with his fate, wondering how all his efforts to be like his “father” have so utterly failed.

So it often is within the church. Filling the pews are those who are quite attracted to the God of Israel. Thinking Him to be reasonable, kind and just they mimic Him as closely as they can, discussing the Father’s attributes, arguing over His likely thoughts and intentions. Try as they might, however, they cannot find His presence in the most intimate areas of life.

It is no more possible to become a child of God by mimicking Him than it is to become someone else’s child by adopting new facial expressions and wearing different clothes. Godly attributes emerge because we are given a new nature, because the character of God is birthed into us. Even if, at first, we only bear a passing resemblance to the LORD, He recognizes us as surely as we recognize His voice in our heart when He first speaks to us.

What is puzzling is Yahweh’s children often seem to have few of the qualities that draw strangers to the Father. Nonetheless, they confidently approach God, assuming all is well. While their relationship with God may even be contentious, the children of the Most High are certain they have one.

 When we are born again, it is not by the will of man, including our own. We love the LORD because He first loved us. As we place our hope in His exceedingly precious promise that we are not only of Him, but destined to be His lover and bride, we become partakers of His divine nature.

 It is then we can rest in His love, at peace in the knowledge that Yahweh, the living God of Israel, is rejoicing over us with songs, regardless of what we look like to others.