Growing up, like most other teenagers, I’ve indulged in my share of rebellion. What kept me from devolving into outright malicious delinquency was the firm hand of my father, combined with a filial fear of swift retribution, a self-imposed limit to not disappoint him any more. On reflection from years later, was also an unspoken love of my father. This last one I also attribute to my mysterious limitations when trying to outdo myself in misdemeanours.
Nevertheless, I would try and get away with what I could for a while, until that too would see the light of day, leading inevitably to my having to “defend my actions” to my visibly disapproving and ever more weary father. It was many years later, after having accomplished a modicum of worldly success and stability in life that I would hear that twinge of pride in my father’s voice, when he would introduce me to his friends and relatives (although, to this day, he hasn’t retired from his full-time job as critic-in-residence). What I also sensed, underlying that pride, was his fatherly relief that my juvenile, profligate ways hadn’t carried over into adulthood. More so, it freed him to be carelessly generous with his affection and love in his twilight years.
The way to the North Star
Whence in adolescent yesteryear, I had my father pegged as worrywart-in-chief. Now in parenthood, I commiserate with his former angst and await the day when I can be carelessly generous in my affections towards my children, basking in the redounding warmth of their successes. A good father wishes for some notion of “the best” for their child. But, broken creatures that we are, a bit of worldly success and a touch of spirituality seem to be the pragmatic, attainable North Star, which pales in comparison to the expectations of our heavenly Father.
Nothing short of being re-made in the perfection of His image and likeness is acceptable. He is the North Star. This ought to be self-evident, in that, God is love (1 John 4:8), and the perfect expression of that love, was the sacrifice of his son for the salvation of the world (John 3:16). That only by way of Christ (John 14:6), through that necessary sacrifice, would we come to know the Father (John 14:7), inheriting our sonship in the Father through the shared humanity of His only begotten son. But, this is a way that is lived in faith (John 14:12, whoever believes in me) and works (John 14:12, will do the works that I do).
… through, with, and in Christ
In that same verse (John 14:12) is a little addendum that appears to be a non sequitur, viz., “will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father“. How are we, creatures that we are, ever going to accomplish works like Christ that are, wait for it, greater than his works. Did that North Star just jump a few thousand light years farther?
The answer is through, with and in Christ. We are the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12). The goodness, beauty, and truth of our works done in His name, done with Him, redound to the glory of the Son and through the Son, to the Father. The heavenly Father has been, dare I say, carelessly generous with his love for us from the beginning. His has always been an invitation of participation – perfect love can have it no other way. All we are called to do is turn away from our profligate ways of remissions and rebellion, bear fruit in the way of faith and works in his Son, and then to bask in the warmth and pride of our heavenly Father. It is to hope for that day when we, as children of God, will hear that pride in our heavenly Father’s voice as he introduces us to His Angels and Saints, “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Amen.