Our house was full of Karen’s family when our first son Kristofer was born. No sooner had he arrived into the world than it started. “He looks just like Karen.” Being a proud new father I was a bit miffed by this. I wanted there to be some resemblance of me in him. But no one seemed to notice. It was a Campbell clan celebration.
You can understand my anticipation when it was my family’s turn to visit Kris. As soon as they arrived and walked in the door, I quickly grabbed Kris and held him up to them. “What do you think?” I asked. With a smirk on his face my dad replied, “He looks just like you, Rick.”
I turned to Karen with a “See, I told you so” look. She leaned over and whispered to me, “Well, honey, that’s because you are holding Kristofer upside down.”
We should not be surprised to see a resemblance between children and their parents. We even have these common phrases: “A chip off the old block.” “The acorn didn’t fall far from the tree.” “Like father, like son.” “She’s the spittin’ image of her mother.”
Regardless of the phrase you might use, you’ve done as many have. Your neighbor has a baby and you say, “Oh, her eyes are just like yours.” “I can see a little of both of you in him.” As if any of this should surprise us. You’ve said those things.
And so did the Apostle John. He didn’t use the same phrases but he makes the same point. And whereas we might point to a nose, the eyes, the mouth, or ears as to where the similarity is found, John points elsewhere. The defining similarity we are to have with our Father is one thing: love.
John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Notice what he does not say. He does not list the things those “born of God” do not do. It’s unfortunate that God’s children are often known more for what they don’t do than what they do. John says what they do is they love. “Whoever … has been born of God…loves.”
But sometimes loving others is not easy. John knows this is true. He wants us to quit the sin of not loving our brothers and sisters. But he also realizes that becoming a person who loves is a process and takes a long time. That’s why he tells us to confess our sins. We don’t keep on sinning—that’s the goal of a child of God. But we confess our sins—that is the response of a child of God who is learning to love.
The way we learn to love is to first be loved. “We love because he first loved us.” How did God love us first? By sending his son who died for our sin. Love is active. And because he loved us this way we love others in the same way.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” We love real people: our brother (and sister) who are in the fellowship with us. We love them in real ways: by giving of our resources to those in need.
An old song stated, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” It’s true. Loved people love people. And when people see them, they see a resemblance to their Father.