We just returned from Annual Conference. For non-Methodists, Annual Conference is the annual meeting of the Annual Conference. That sounds confusing, doesn’t it? For simplicity’s sake, just say The Annual Conference is the basic unit of organization of local congregations in a geographical area for United Methodists. For those of us in Louisiana, it includes the entire state of Louisiana, and The Annual Conference meets annually at an Annual Conference. I’ve digressed early in this blog. The theme of Annual Conference was “Woven Together,” and we talked a lot about DNA. It’s the whole DNA thing that has me thinking this morning, especially as we head toward Father’s Day.
Honestly, I’m shocked how much I see my father in me sometimes. There are mornings I wake up, walk to the mirror in the bathroom and see my dad staring back at me. Other times, I catch myself saying things I heard my dad say occasionally. Still other times, I notice little eccentricities I saw in my dad reflected in me, too. It’s eerie! I suppose, though, it’s DNA.
Even more interesting is when I’m with one or all of my brothers, I see my dad in them, too. Little quirks, little turns of phrases, and the looks…man, the looks! It’s incredible. And, we all act like him sometimes, too. I think if our dad passed anything permanent on to his sons, it would be his Irish temper. As much as I’d rather not, I’ve seen it in all of us. That, too, I suppose is DNA (and not enough of the cultivation of the spiritual fruits of self-control and patience).
Seeing my father in me has caused me to read again John 14. Yeah, it’s that passage we Methodists read at funerals, and if I remember correctly, it was read at my father’s funeral, too. The part that really strikes me as I anticipate Father’s Day is the exchange between Jesus and Philip in verses 8-10:
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”
9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.
Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” Jesus just took the DNA thing to a whole new level. Jesus says to Philip that his words and actions both reflect his Father…that what he does, he can’t do apart from his Father. It was born into Jesus to do the will of his Father. Born into him…DNA.
I suppose it’s natural to look in the mirror and see Terry Malone (forget for a moment that my name IS Terry Malone, too). The old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” is true. There are a lot of things that were good about my dad. There were a few things that weren’t always so good. I got some of both because that’s what DNA does to us (science was not my strongest subject, but I think that’s how it works).
What came naturally to Jesus doesn’t come so naturally to us. Certainly, we are created in the image of God, but this little thing (it’s not such a little thing) called sin has marred that image. The only remedy for sin is the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the cross that restores the image of God in us, and only when we trust Christ for our salvation is the image of God restored in us. Only in trusting Christ do we begin to see the Father reflected in us. Our natural state is to be separated from God, the Father. What was to be our original DNA was altered by an episode in the Garden of Eden (read Genesis 3 for the full account). I must look to Jesus to see the Father. I must trust Jesus to restore the image of the Father in me. It proves yet again how much I need Jesus.
I need Jesus to give me the Father’s DNA. I need the Holy Spirit to pour Himself out into my life to give birth to the Father’s DNA that was in Jesus. I don’t have it apart from him. I can’t have it apart from him. Jesus gives each of us an infusion of the Father’s DNA. Listen to Paul in Romans 8:
12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
As much as I see my father in me, I want more to see the Father in me. So, it’s true…if you’ve seen me you’ve seen my father. I want it to be more true that if you’ve seen me you’ve seen The Father. That’s the image that needs work. At least in me, anyway…
Until next time, keep looking up…
P.S.- Here’s a great “old” song I came across while surfing the web this morning. Kinda’ made my Father’s Day weekend already.