And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired of him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:20-21 KJ2000)
There is a lizard down in Louisiana and Texas that turns the color of what it sits on. They have proven that it actually turns the color of what it beholds. I have seen them turn gray to match the gray wood they were climbing on, green to match plant life and even red to match a brick wall. They take on the color of what they gaze upon.
Paul wrote, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:2 KJ2000).
We who belong to Christ that as we continue to behold Jesus that we should become like Him. “Like” is the key word here. In Genesis God said, “Let us make man in our image and in our likeness.” The image part was almost instant, but the likeness part was an ongoing work. It required walking with God in the cool of the day and doing the works that Adam saw the Father doing and beholding Him.
There are many things that seem “godly” that capture the attention of the church today. One of the most common near misses is focusing on the church instead of Christ. We are like a woman that sits at her vanity for hours on end putting on her face and making sure every hair is in place. We tweak this and that to make sure we look the way we want to look that we might please church leadership, conform to their teachings and expectations and are pleasant to the world around us that we might convince some of “the lost” to join our religious sect and come under our influence. It is a near miss because the true church of Christ is not all about itself, but rather she is all about her Bridegroom!
A brother once told me a story about meeting a young lady at a church conference and all she could do was talk about how great her pastor was. It was “my pastor” this and “my pastor” that. Well, she finally took a breath and he asked her a couple of questions. My friend said, “I assume that you are not married, yet.” She affirmed that this was the case. He then said, “When you get married and you go down to the altar and stand by your husband and make your vows… when it is all said and done, are you going to turn around, grab the arm of the best man and head off on your honeymoon with him?” She said with great shock, “No! I will want to spend my life with and love my husband, not the best man!” To this he replied, “That is what you are doing right now by being infatuated with the pastor instead of Jesus.” We become what we behold and worship. Church leadership was never meant to take the place of Christ as our All in all, yet all too often in the lives of Christians that is exactly what happens.
I was born in the image of my father and I grew up to look like him; tall, brown hair and eyes, and even many of the same facial features. I admired him and wanted so much to be “like” him as I grew up. Soon I was smiling out of the corner of my mouth like he did, laughed like he did and even walked with a slight limp like he did (he had a wooden leg) as I beheld him. Then I discovered after coming to Christ that God had another likeness he wanted me to behold, another likeness that was far superior to that of my earthly father. It was the One he had in mind for me from the beginning that was pure and who walked in the Light of the Father from the beginning of creation. Beholding Jesus with my whole heart has brought about many changes, but it is still an ongoing process. He keeps revealing areas in my “likeness” that have not yet been conformed into the image of Christ and each time He does, I have a decision to make. Will I yield that up to Him, too? Finally at one point a few years ago, He showed me how HE saw me with all my pride that was still in tack as I was trying to be His “man of the hour” with my “spiritual gifts.” It was ugly what I saw. I cried out, “Lord if all that pride is who I still am, just kill it. Show me no mercy.” Well, that was the beginning of a deep stripping of everything I was and even things that I had. That time in the wilderness lasted for 14 years with no since of His presence in any form. It was heart-breaking and I fought being in depression continuously, but at the end of it I has come to the place where I could pray and mean it, “Father, if this state that I am in is what you have for me for the rest of my life, so be it. Not my will but yours be done.” When I quit kicking against His will, He knew that it was time to take me into a new phase where He could work with me and not constantly having me “adjust” the image of what He desired to bring forth in me. Paul said,
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:1-3, KJ2000)
He does not desire to fix up our old minds but rather replace them with the mind of Christ! The word “transformed” is metamorpho in the Greek. Like the life cycle of a butterfly, God puts us through a metamorphosis that we might become NEW creatures in Christ and the old one is done away with and discarded as useless, but what springs forth form that chrysalis is far more glorious than what went into it. First we must experience death to that old worm called Adam and then go dormant for a season (see https://awildernessvoice.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/metamorphosis/) while HE does a deep work within us so that when we come forth, there is on resemblance to that old worm, but something glorious that can take flight into the heavens with Him and see things as HE does and see HIM as HE is. Praise His name for making every provision that is needed to bring to pass in us, “when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”
For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3-4, KJ2000)
Thanks, Michael. Oh…to be like HIM!
Awesome Blog sir. thank you
Well said brother!!
Bro. Michael, I am impressed to tell you that I too wanted to be as much like my father as possible. However, my father suddenly dropped dead before I was a year old, and I have no memory of him. I hung on to what my family and community would tell me about him.
As a young child I would go out in the yard and sing praises to my Heavenly Father. I remember one day when I was so enjoying the Heavenly Father that I said to Him, had I had my earthly Father I did not believe I would have had the nearness to the Heavenly Father that I was experiencing. Some how I knew that God is a Father to the orphan. I know that the absence of a father is a determining factor in what one is – so I would wish that all children have an earthly Father. However, I don’t regret my loss, because God has been there for me.
Pressing on in Him,
Thank you Pat for highlighting the earthly father part of Michael article. I also believe the absence of fathering by my earthly father greatly contributes to my intimacy with heavenly Father. Many talk and write about parenthood. When I became a parent, it became obvious there is no “how to” , but just living reality.
As I continually beheld my heavenly Father, listened to His voice, his guidance, teaching, abiding into Him, it becomes the Life itself. When I fail, my precious young son’s will say “your in the flesh daddy”. They know instantly daddy is not abiding in the Holy Spirit. Surly beholding that reality, that is, the reality of His abiding love and Spirit, is parenthood?
Many have counseled me that parenthood is “control”. Church folks often assaulted my parenthood by pleading with me, “will you control your kids”, the plea was intense. I saw it for what is was and just kept “the love cup full” that my kids carried around. Just as Charles Newbold wrote about in “Looking for Dad”. Kids see, behold, the authentic. Bless you.
Patricia and Russell,
I have found that being focused on my earthly father was not an asset, but a liability in the Kingdom of God. Being raised without a father can be an advantage. You realized out of necessity that God was your Father and sufficient for the task at an early age because you did not have that false image in front of you and sought a relationship with Him. I, on the other hand, was told by the Catholic church that God was way too busy to be involved with us little sinners and that we had to pray to those down the “chain of command,” Mary, patron saints, etc. and if our request was a good one, they would forward it up the line. Needless to say, praying to and seeking God as my Father was not an option.
Many years later after coming to Christ and praying to Jesus on a regular basis, I heard Him say, “Michael, I have someone I want you to meet.” I said, “Who, Lord?” He said, “My Father.” I was in shock! I said, “But, Lord, if I start speaking to Him and can bypass you, what happens to you?” Jesus said, “Don’t you understand? This is what I am all about! I came that all men might be restored to my Father and that all the walls of separation might be torn down.”
Another time I was pondering why Jesus said, “Call no man father, for only one is your Father who is in heaven.” I said to Him, “Isn’t my dad my father? Why not call him father?” He said, “Okay, what is a Clark?” I said, “Well, my father was a Clark and Clarks like to drink, smoke, party, are abusive to their families and short tempered, etc.” Father then said to me, “Is that who you really think I am?” I then saw that to “call” a man by a title that belongs to God can defile the meaning of the title and the personage of God and cause much confusion in our lives which was the case with me.
Another time I was at a church conference and the speaker was talking about how seeing God as our Father. I only remember one thing he said toward the end of his lecture, “Those of you who are sitting there, thinking that you are at a disadvantage for not having good Christian fathers to show you who God is, know this. Growing up without good fathering has forced you to seek out the REAL Father and not accept a substitute.
So there you have it. I still find prayer (in a formal since) difficult, but He keeps calling me to Himself, just the same. I can hear the Lord’s voice, though, and He inspires me with His thoughts often. Thanks for sharing your hearts and experiences on here.
Bro. Michael, thank you for all that you share of your journey of faith. Some years ago as I was considering the names of God as revealed to men of old and recorded in the Old Testament, I came to the conclusion that God’s favorite Name is Father. I could be wrong, but He has not shown me my error – if I am.
Thank you, Russell, for sharing about your journey. All my children are in their forties. I have regrets concerning my parenting. However, as long as I live, I am still privileged to parent. My pray is that by His grace I will do it right.
Pressing on in Him,
My earthly father had no biological children. He and my mother adopted me and another girl three years younger. My “Daddy” was loving, encouraging, gentle, and kind. He had high expectations of us. When we messed up, as kids, teens, or as adults, he would say, “You know the difference between right and wrong.” That was all it took. We DID know, because he had taught us. We knew how much he loved us, and we knew that we didn’t want to ever disappoint him.
Having a wonderful father actually helped me to love my Father in Heaven more. God is infinitely more than any earthly father could be. That amazes me. It awes me. My temporal father was wonderful. My eternal father is infinitely more!
Nice to read you again Michael.
amen, Mike!! I also enjoyed the comments proving that our Father is not limited by any of our circumstances; He can, & does, use it all to draw the seeking heart to Himself. Bless the Lord, oh my soul!!