Summary: God has made us his own in Christ. The love of Jesus leads us to demonstrate this blessed truth in our lives.
One of the strangest moments in life is the day that you are talking (discussing, correcting, teaching, arguing what ever you want to call it) to your own children and suddenly you hear your mother’s voice coming out of your mouth. Suddenly, you start saying things that you swore you would never say to YOUR children. It is in those moments that we suddenly realize we have become our parents. Even if we struggle not to be, there will be traits that have been indelibly etched into our own persona. It is a truth that is inescapable. Your heritage, your lineage will have a real and distinct reflection on who you are and what you become. There will always be a “birthmark” of sorts that link us back to the ones to whom we belong.
And St. John is describing this same sort of connection – but on much grand and significant scale. The apostle tells us that we all are God’s children, even if we’re parents in this life. On this special day, Mother’s Day, we will look at this blessed truth: WE ARE GOD’S CHILDREN. As we discuss God’s divinely paternal ways we will see that we, his children are 1) Childish, but Forgiven, and that we are called to be 2) Childlike, with Vision.
1) Childish, But Forgiven
Someone once composed the following list of "Toddler’s Rules of Ownership". These ten statements describe the very childish, even selfish nature of little children: 1. If I like it, it’s mine. 2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine. 3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine. 4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine. 5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way. 6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine. 7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine. 8. If I think it’s mine, it’s mine. 9. If it’s yours and I steal it, it’s mine. 10. If you’re having more fun than me, it’s mine.
I may be bold in saying this, but toddlers aren’t the only ones who act in childish ways. Those very same rules could apply to all of us adults and children alike. A child’s world centers around himself for at least the first couple of years. Someone has said that every child is a potential dictator. And it becomes very evident at an early age. You bring a child home from the hospital, you lay him down in his crib, and then you lay down in bed and go to sleep. Now, in a couple of hours, that child will wake up with an urge to eat. And you would think that that child would reason to himself, "It’s 2:00 in the morning. My parents are tired. I really hate to cry and wake them up; they need some rest. I think I’ll just wait for a few more hours before I say anything."
But you know as well as I do that it doesn’t work that way. Instead, the reasoning process goes something like this: "I’m hungry, and you will feed me right now. I don’t care what you’re doing. I don’t care what else needs to be done. I’m going to be fed, and I’ll keep screaming until that happens." That’s selfish. A baby’s world revolves around the concept, "What I want, I get." Now, we may be tempted to think, “Well, that’s how little babies are. It’s not their fault!” Yes. It’s true to a point. Screaming may be only way a baby can get what he wants. It takes time for a child to grow and mature. Yet, how many of us, who are supposed to be grown up and mature, act just like little babies? We are too often childish. We expect to always get what we want, and if we don’t, we throw a huge temper tantrum – hollering and screaming – until people give in. We gossip and slander one another. We pick up the telephone and call people – ranting and raving to one person after the other. And what happens? We actually feel childish because of our behavior. And guilt overwhelms us. We feel foolish. We feel that we’ve ruined our friendships with one another. And then we get stubborn. Almost every child goes through periods of stubbornness and outright rebellion -- usually at predictable times. Every mom has horror stories about the "terrible twos". There comes a time when a child learns how to use the word "no" and that becomes his favorite word. "Eat your vegetables." "No!" "Go to bed." "No!" "Pick up your toys." No!” The story is told of a man who was pushing a shopping cart through a store. And in the cart was a screaming, bouncing baby boy. As the man walked up and down the aisles, he kept saying over and over, "Don’t yell, Kevin. Calm down, Kevin. Don’t get excited, Kevin." A woman standing next to him noticed what was going on and said, "You certainly are to be commended for trying to soothe your son Kevin." The man looked at her and said, "Lady, I’m Kevin!" Stubbornness is a difficult trait to deal with in a child. It’s even more difficult to deal with when it’s a child of God that has the stubborn heart and is rebelling against his heavenly Father. That attitude that says, "I know what God’s Word says, but no, I’m not going to listen to it.” These are problems that God dealt with throughout history. God said to Isaiah, "this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord." (Isaiah 30:9). To be honest, we all have to admit, moms included, that we, too, are stubborn, selfish, and ignorant children. Too often, we resemble our earthly parents, and not our heavenly Father. It is a great wonder to read St. John’s words: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” As Christians, we need to meekly take God’s Word to heart. John is flabbergasted that God would consider him a child. John was a 90 year-old man when he wrote this letter, and yet, he stood in complete amazement over the fact that God considered him a child. John was one of the 12 disciples. His brother was James. These were the two Jesus nicknamed, “the sons of thunder.” They were zealous, arrogant, and self-righteous. They often said foolish and arrogant things. They did foolish and stubborn things. And yet, this one disciple, John, is the “one Jesus loved.” Moms and dads, parents and children, husbands and wives, are you amazed that God, your heavenly Father, loves you? He does. In fact, he’s lavished it on you. He’s poured it on you. He has shown the greatest expression of love imaginable. He gave himself for us. He suffered for our childish ways. He endured our selfishness, our ignorance, and stubbornness. Jesus bore all our sins for us. He lived as the perfectly obedient child of God. Never once was he stubborn, selfish, or defiant. God’s own beloved Son, Jesus Christ, was sent to turn our hearts back towards God, the Father. And Jesus has. He now molds us to be more like God’s children.