I came home from prayer meeting one evening to find my wife curled up with by daughter Bella in bed. She was reading the Children’s Bible to Bella and mentioned that it was Bella’s choice since she wanted to be “like Daddy.” In fact, when she saw me, she held up the green hard covered book and repeatedly said, “Just like you, Daddy, just like you,” with a broad smile on her face, until I acknowledge that she was indeed imitating me.
When I was deciding how to write about this wonderful episode, I thought that this was an obvious lesson about godly parenting and how living by example influences children. However, I have to say that I have not been perfect (and only been a parent for three years). A few months later I contemplated on writing how we should be eager to follow God’s commands. However, several months later (I apologize for the delay in a blog post – several things came up in life) it finally hit me what God was showing me through this father and daughter interaction.
The question I really needed to ask was “why”. Why did my daughter (who was two at the time) make the effort and have joy in imitating her sinner-saved-by-grace Dad? And then it hit me. The reason was love. Bella loved her Dad and wanted to follow me by imitating me.
Jesus admonished to his disciples, “if you love me, follow my commandments” (John 14:15). Whenever I read this verse, I usually have a hard time with it. I sometimes bristle at the decree. It almost seems that the only way my love is to be shown to Jesus is by following a bunch of rules. What happened to grace? What happened to accepting me “Just As I Am” as the hymn suggests?
That is where Bella helped me. Bella was born from me and loves me. Therefore, she desires to emulate me (I wish that would include cleaning up her toys after she finishes with them, but that is another blog post). The point Jesus was trying to explain was that the normal progression of love is to imitate the one you love. If you love Jesus, then you will follow Him, and obey him. Jesus said it in another way: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21 ESV).
Therefore, take some time out of your hectic schedule to meditate on Jesus Himself. What He has done. What He is doing in your life and the life of others. Remember what He did on that cross a couple millennia ago, dying as a common criminal on behalf of another criminal (look in the mirror at this point). Take the time to fall in love with Him all over again. When you see Jesus as who He really is then you will truly find that His commands are actually “easy, and [His] burden is light” (Matthew 11:30 ESV). You will discover joy as you actively obey Him. Then you will be able to look at Him and say with a broad smile, “Just like you, Jesus, just like you!”