(September 5, 1990)
During the five weekends of July, we attended four different churches: our own in Fort Saskatchewan, one in Moose Jaw, one in Caronport and one in Minot, North Dakota. The amazing thing about this experience was the family resemblance...
Now I don’t mean a physical resemblance -- even though one of the deacons in North Dakota looked very much like a pastor in West Edmonton, and one of the members of a Sunday school class looked like a lady from a church I used to attend in Medicine Hat.
And I don’t mean how they talked -- even though the Sunday School teacher in Minot, despite his American accent, prayed just like an usher in Fort Saskatchewan, and the ushers in Moose Jaw issued the same friendly greetings as they do in churches all over Alberta.
This family resemblance isn’t something discernible by the ordinary senses. It isn’t a similar manner of dress, nor do they smile the same or move the same... yet so often godly people seem cut from the same cloth.
Perhaps a verse from Acts 4:13 partly deciphers this mystery. It speaks of Peter and John being perceived by the crowd as “uneducated men” yet bold in their presentation of the gospel. Their lives were so contrary to the norm that these who observed them could offer no other explanation but; “...they have been with Jesus.”
Being with Jesus resulted in two things for the disciples: they either betrayed Him as did Judas, or begins to imitate Him, as did the other eleven disciples. Of course imitation is the command to all of God’s people; He saved each one so we could be “conformed to the image of His Son,” thus Christlikeness is not only the responsibility of every Christian, but our destiny. 1 John 3:2 even says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth 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.”
So, as we see Jesus more clearly (through faith and reading His Word), we are able to reflect His image, and so it should be. When God created the world and all that is in it, He created male and female in His image. Even though that image was soon marred by sin, Jesus will wash away the “dirt on the mirror,” enabling the reflection to again shine in those who believe in Him and receive Him. Being like Him is God’s intention.
That doesn’t mean we will physically look like Him, nor will our voices sound like Him, although our speech will be in harmony with what He says. It is more a resemblance that radiates from the inner person -- godly attitudes which become motivation for a variety of godly activities and ministries.
These foundational attitudes are found in passages such as the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5,6,7) and Galatians 5:22,23 where they are described as fruit of the Spirit: humility, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. 1 Corinthians 13 talks about the love of God, perhaps the strongest identifying characteristic of His family members. It is a unique kind of love, one that is displayed in actions of self-sacrifice for the eternal well-being of another, regardless of their response.
Even a quick examination of this love reveals that Christlikeness is impossible for mere mortals. Without Him in our lives, we don’t think like He thinks, nor do we sacrifice ourselves in a godly manner. However, He will change all that for anyone who asks, by making His life available and transforming us from what we are into His own dear children.
So that explains the family resemblance. It might be in varying degrees yet, no matter where I find them, no matter their color, dress, or habits, the children of God “look” like one another because they are reflections of Him.