LIKE FATHER LIKE SON
In the early stages of faith, we see the world in categories of right and wrong, good and evil, righteous and unrighteous. To most of us, it seems obvious that we should love the good guys and hate the bad guys. Do good to good people and avoid or condemn evil people. Take care of our own and don’t be taken advantage of by outsiders. Everyone does that. But Jesus calls us to more.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48, NIV)
Jesus demands I not only love my brother who is like me, but my neighbor who is different. But he doesn’t stop there. Jesus calls me to love my enemy, who hates me. That’s how we bear the family resemblance. Father God loves those who hate him and does good to those who don’t believe in him. He gives sunshine and rain liberally without regard to who deserves it. Be a chip off the old block. Be just like Dad. Perfect.
Of course Jesus practiced what he preached. He was the perfect Son of the Father —the spitting image of God. And religious people couldn’t stand it because that’s not how they thought of God. He was too liberal in his love and grace.
Jesus never said righteousness doesn’t matter. He never said goodness was a waste of time. He himself was as righteous and good as they come. But like his Father, he was generous to the good and bad, the righteous and unrighteous. When he fed people, he did it so liberally there were leftovers. That time he turned water into wine, he made barrels-full more than they needed. When he poured out his life for the sake of the world, there was more than enough for everyone. And there was not one of us who deserved the liberal grace he offered.
The more we get to know him, the more we will become like him too. You will become more liberal with your love and grace without distinction. If you are not growing over time to become more like him, you are not seeing him as he is. Look again. He is beautiful. And that’s what his Father is like too.