See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
(1 John 3:1-2)
A colleague of mine, who I worked with several years ago, had a son who had Down syndrome. There came a time when his son moved into his own accommodation, and all was well for a while. Then, one day, Dad received a telephone call. It transpired that his son was having a bad time with his group of friends, who had started picking on and laughing at him. When he eventually got round to saying why this was, the son revealed that he had recently shaved all his hair off. Dad asked the obvious question, “Why did you do that?” And he got the answer I think he least expected: “Because I want to look like you, Dad.”
I know that my ex-colleague lavished love on his child. His boy, in his own way, understood just how great that love was. And he did something about it! He wanted to be the same as his Dad, to look like him, to be a reflection of him.
We have a generous God, whose love for us is (among many words we might use) great. His love for us isn’t given with conditions; it isn’t given for good behaviour (it could be argued that it’s actually the other way round); it isn’t given begrudgingly or half-heartedly. No, God’s great love is given generously and without limit. Lavishly!
The upshot of this is that we are called ‘children of God’.
We could stop there, because that in itself is incredible, astounding, amazing. You and I are children of a God of such love, such great love lavished on us. We are sons and daughters of the creator of all things, children of the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We can call him Abba, Father… Dad!
Praise him that we are his children, loved by him. Already. Right here and now.
Incredibly, John says that there is more to come, more to be revealed and understood by us, more to be received by us from the one who loves us so much. And not one of us will need to shave a hair of our heads to benefit from the glory that awaits. (My apologies to all those readers who have no hairs upon their head they could shave, even if they wanted to!)
We are going to be like Christ. We are going to see Jesus as he is. We will not only reflect the Son of God, we will be like him, ‘conformed to his image’ (Romans 8:29). That’s got to be something to look forward to, hasn’t it? How special will it be to become wholly Christ-like?
The wonderful thing is we are already on this journey. And John wants us to ‘see’ this (the opening word of this passage). He wants us to behold, to look at, to study, to bathe in the lavish love of God, our heavenly Father, and to be changed.
The great generosity of God’s love for us should change us in many ways. It should show in our likeness to our Father, in our desire to reflect more of Jesus in our life, in our striving to grow and mature in the Spirit and in our love for one another as siblings, as his children.
Let us pray, “Because we want to look like you, Dad,” and see what his lavish love can do in and through us.