I didn’t enjoy a cordial relationship with my father while growing up because I defied his expectations from a son. He is justified as a father to expect his only son to be like him; strong, agile, and heavily built to help in his workshop but here I am, a frail-looking artist with soft palms and a big mouth.
Culture and civilization have, over the years, attached much importance on father to child relationship, especially on resemblance and character. In the same manner, Christianity, as a religion extols it. We have a God in heaven whom we refer to as our father who in turn calls us His children. Through His Word, we learned, in His bid to forge a strong relationship with us, that He came to live among us in flesh and blood. Like a son, He walked on this earth, worked, and taught us the mind of the Father.
In His famous sermon on the mount, after teaching on various aspects of living from the beatitudes, to the law of Moses, marriage, divorce, anger, promises, light, and finally love, Jesus gave a closing command that sums the entirety of living as a child of God.
But you must always act like your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:48 CEV
As simple as it sounds, it goes beyond just a remark but an order to a better and fulfilling relationship with God, and man. God, because it is His expectations and delight that we become like Him here on earth. And man, because in becoming like God we’ll function like him and this breeds a full sense of divinity in humanity that forges peaceful coexistence.
Before we can act like someone, it is safe to say that we must know and acquaint ourselves with the character of the person. In the case of God, His character is vast yet simple. I’ll focus on five that I believe have a greater impact on our human relationship as much as it does on the divine.
God is Love
All through times, the standard of God’s love transcends human comprehension and attainment. He is the full definition and embodiment of pure love. God loved the people of this world so much that He gave His only Son so that everyone who has faith in Him will have eternal life and never really die (John 3:16 CEV). There’s no greater love than this; that a man will die for the sins of another, for a righteous man maybe but never for an unrighteous, but while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
God showed His love for us when He sent His only Son into the world to give us life. It is in His capacity to love unconditionally that He rains on and sustain both the good and the bad without prejudice, preference, or partiality. When we embody this kind of love we’ll start to see others the same way God sees them, beyond religion, tribe, race, skin colour, education, language, and every other medium of judgment we’ve constructed. John the apostle admonishes that we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know Him.
God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known Him (1 John 4:7,8 CEV).
God is Benevolent
God gives to everyone, freely. He loves the world so He gave His son. He gave gifts unto men and daily load us with benefits. He is so kind-hearted and charitable that He blesses His beloved even in their sleep — when they do not really need the blessing (Ps. 127:2). His benevolence is established in the words ‘ask and it shall be given into you’, He gives liberally without questions. James 1: 5 says that “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking”. It’s safe to say that the verse doesn’t apply to wisdom alone, but to other virtues and gifts because He gives bread to the eater and seeds to the sower, all man according to his needs.
God gives and it is evident in His creation. Nature was designed to give as much as it takes, that is why God isn’t in the business of creating more trees or humans. He has built in the principle of giving for multiplication in creation; seeds give plants, plants give food and oxygen which sustains life.
When we fail to give we become obese with worry and anxiety, oftentimes we get depressed and feel rotten. Call it altruism, but there’s a good feeling you get each time you give your resources or render help to someone else. We should make giving our lifestyle because our relationship with others becomes better and our communion stronger when we give.
God is Attentive
Just one look at nature is all it takes to establish the attentiveness of God. The intricate design of the veins on a leaf and the structure of the human anatomy is proof of an attentive creator. Beyond His attention to details, His obsession over the well-being of His children is commendable. The psalmist professed of the Lord’s attention through the whole of chapter 116, verse 2 says, “You paid attention to me, and so I will pray to you as long as I live”.
Malachi 3 verses 16 and 17 tells that when the children of God are discussing among themselves, God listens and opens a book of remembrance before them. This is a discussion that He’s not even invited into yet He paid attention, how much more when we pray.
Some time ago, I invited an electrician to install a square LED bulb in my toilet with a vertical line patterned ceiling. To my surprise, this electrician fitted the bulb in a slant manner making it an eyesore. You might think it is nothing until you consider how negligent he is to beauty and order and that made his work ugly. It would have been beautiful if only he paid attention to the direction of the lines and fixed the bulb to suit. Now I have to live with getting a blow in my gut each time I visit the toilet.
Many relationships have been destroyed because one or both of the partners paid no attention to salient issues that eventually broke them. Children are lost to suicide because their parents paid no attention to their emotional needs; businesses have lost profit because of silly oversights; children of God pray amiss because they didn’t pay attention to the Bible. The devil, they say, is in the details and your attention to it can either mar or make you.
God is Expressive
Everything God has or is, He expressed. The Bible itself is God’s expression, from Genesis to Revelation He expressed His ways, wealth, wisdom, love, riches, craftsmanship, likes, and dislikes. In Revelation alone, we are exposed to His magnificence and extravagance from even the tiniest detail of heaven’s architecture and beauty. The number of creatures in heaven and their responsibilities is a testament to His flamboyance, likewise is His taste for judgment expressed.
There is no situation void of God’s expression and no emotion did He withhold. He expressed His disappointment in man when He regretted creating him because his thoughts are evil daily; He expressed His pleasure at creation when He saw that all He created was good; He laughed in Psalm 37 verse 13; He wept for Lazarus; He was angry at the Pharisees for making the temple a den of thieves; He expressed His displeasure at some of the seven churches in Revelation; He expressed His doubt in the garden of Gethsemane; He expressed His thirst and pain on the cross; and ultimately, He expressed his love.
This informs that if we must act like our father, we should embrace His expressiveness and start communicating how we really feel in situations. The world will be a better place with fewer problems arising from assumptions and uncertainty.
God is Forgiving
As Christians, I believe this is no news to us because it is the foundation of our faith. However, it is saddening to know that we’re the most unforgiving people. We have forgotten that to err is human and to forgive is divine, we received forgiveness for our own sins yet we have refused to forgive others of their misdoings. If we must truly act like our father in heaven, we have to forgive and keep forgiving people of their trespasses because there’ll always be offenses. Jesus said seventy times seven times daily is the number of times you should forgive your brother if he offends you, and that’s a long rope if you ask me.
So, I may not have had a chance with my earthly father, perhaps you didn’t too, but we all can enjoy a blissful communion with our Father in heaven and our neighbor.