Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who's your daddy?

Kids can be ruthless. Look around,our schools, daycares, and sunday school rooms are filled with cruel, merciless, relentless, vicious animals. Elementary school students come home from school and tell some of the craziest stories. You ask them how their day was and then begin to tell the story of some irate demon-child that punched a nerd, choked a kitten, and kicked an old lady, all during recess--and then they say it was a good day. I haven't seen anyone get punched, kicked, or choked in a long time. Elementary school kids see it at least five times a week.

Not only do they kick and punch, but they say some of the most terrible things. When you're in elementary school, you can be made fun of for just about anything. Those mean kids are creative. They see you with your mom and for the next week they taunt you to the tune of "Nanni-nanni-boo-boo" singing, "Jeremy loves his mom! Jeremy loves his mom!" And if you're fat, just forget about it. The chubby kids get it the worse. Been there, done that.

When I was younger, we had a name for these physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive children. They were "meanies." They were meanies because they were mean. It's fairly simple.

I have noticed however, that when in the presence of a parent, even the most notorious and ruthless meanies act like perfect little angels. Meanies are only meanies when the other kid's mom or dad isn't there. You probably experienced this when you were a kid. Your friend would be really soft-spoken and respectful when you both were in the car with your parents but when you got out of the car and went to the backyard to play while your parents were inside, all of a sudden the demons in your friend resurfaced. When your parents weren't around he'd fight over toys, call you names, yell, levitate, perform the Exorcist headspin, and smother you with standard childhood threats like the classic, "I'm not gonna be your friend anymore!"

But not even the meanest meanie would treat you badly while your father was watching!

I sometimes wonder why God chose to call Himself our 'Father.' Many of us didn't have good relationships with our father. For over 10 million families in America, a father isn't even present. Some people live their entire lives and never even know who their father is. Fathers get drunk and beat their wives. Fathers abandon children. Fathers cause a lot of hurt and pain.

In his book Blue Like Jazz, Donal Miller says, "Today I wonder why it is that God refers to Himself as ‘Father’ at all. This, to me, in light of the earthly representation of the role, seems a marketing mistake." So, why would God, who could have chosen to relate to us in any way, choose to call himself 'Father'? Why would he want to be associated with such a group?

The most obvious reason is the fact that fathers are very important to us. We all long to be taught, protected, and loved by a father. Some of us have been. Others of us have not. If you've had a great father, God as 'Father' makes sense. You enjoy and understand a relationship with your heavenly father, because you've enjoyed the relationship with your earthly father. But even better, if you haven't had a great relationship with your earthly father or have never even known him, God offers something to you that you have always longed for. He offers to teach you, protect you, and most importantly, love you. God calls himself 'Father' because humans have a deep inner longing for a relationship with a father.

But there's another, perhaps, more important reason

God isn't only worried with how we relate to him, but he's very concerned with how we relate to others. A Pharisee asked what the two most important things for a Christian to do were and Jesus answered, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Love God, love people. According to Jesus, both are equally important. I find it unlikely that Jesus would say anything is as important as loving God, but he did--love people.

What Jesus just said shows how concerned God really is with how we treat each other. Why is God so concerned with how you treat your neighbor? Because God is 'Father'.

Sometimes we don't reaize that the guy that we want to hit in the face is actually God's son. We thoughtlessly slander girls who God considers to be his daughter. We fight, argue, threaten, gossip, taunt, and ridicule. We hurt people, physically, and more often and even worse, emotionally. Even after we've grown up, we still act like grade school meanies.

We do this because we forget. We forget that the people around us have a father, and he is watching. You see, God didn't just call himself 'Father' so it will change the way we act towards him, but he calls himself 'Father' so it will change the way we treat his sons and daughters around us. You would never insult or hurt a friend while their earthly father was watching, so why do we do it while their heavenly father is?

Sure, you are God's child and you mean a lot to him, but you're not an only child! You can't forget the fact that the person sitting across from you is God's child too. You're surrounded by God's children. And he is watching you! Treat people the same way you would as if God were standing right in front of you--because, he is.

So, stop talking bad about God's child. Stop insulting his son. Stop alienating his daughter. Stop arguing. Stop making threats. Stop being selfish. Stop bullying God's children!

Just be nice…

You big meanie.