Humble Child, Gracious Father.
If I ever had to describe my dad's understanding of Christianity in one word, that word would be reverence. As long as I can remember, it has always been something I took special notice of but never really understood. And because I never really understood it, I always felt a little embarrassed by it.
When my dad prays or talks about God, there is a certain quietness about him, a stillness I don't think I have ever truly experienced. When he prays, I picture the people throughout the Bible that fell to their faces when they encountered God. There is just a complete submissiveness and humility he conveys when he is talking to God. I remember several times growing up, and even when I'm home on break, when the Channita family was gathered around the dinner table and he would pray for the food. It was a prayer I had heard probably hundreds of times and behind closed eyelids, my eyes would roll in my spiritual smugness and prideful piety. It was just another prayer to me. But I firmly believe it never was, and never will be, just another prayer for my dad.
Even though a prayer might have had recycled phrases and repetitive requests, his prayers never lacked sincerity. There was never a hint of artificiality in the tone of his voice or hollow words that held no meaning. Every word that was spoken was uttered with the understanding that he was speaking to LORD God Almighty. He never approached the throne of God casually striding in with a list of things he wanted and expected from God. He crawled in. With bowed head, for he dared not look into the unfathomable awesomeness of God. He crawled to the feet of his Father and poured out his heart to the God that made it.
In my contemplation of the honor and reverence with which my dad speaks to God, I have been seriously convicted of how flippantly I sometimes treat God. It's like all of the prayers my dad said before meals or before flights had never been allowed to permeate my heart. What I wrongfully viewed as a lack of spiritual depth and understanding in my dad was really a depth of intimacy with God I had never been able to experience because of my own hard-heartedness. In my perceived spiritual-prominence I became like the older son in Luke 15 or the religious people seen throughout the Gospels. My religiosity and self-righteousness led to my lack of intimacy with God, a lifestlye I'm certain my dad wants me to come to know and cherish.
When we lack a certain reverence for God we tend to downplay the seriousness of what it means to be a child of God. In downplaying this relationship, we ultimately decrease the importance with which Jesus viewed His relationship with God as His Son. When we begin to view something Jesus held with the utmost importance as unimportant or even trivial, we are very obviously doing something wrong.
Throughout the Bible, the familial identification of son was held with such high regard that Jesus was ultimately killed for it. In Luke 22:70-71, when Jesus was on trial before the Council of elders following his arrest, the elders asked Him,
"And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.” Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
Jesus was charged, convicted, and executed for committing blasphemy against God. When the Council heard Jesus declare with His own mouth that He was the Son of God, He was really saying he possessed equal status with God. This understanding must be seen in its cultural context, as the familial relationship of sonship has lost most of its meaning with the passage of time. During biblical times, the father-son relationship was extremely significant. The designation of son can best be understood as an extension of who the father was, which is why so often with introductions in the Bible the father is often included (James and John the sons of Zebedee, Simon the son of Jonah). For someone to be called a "son of..." or a "child of..." held much more importance than we really understand in our own generation. It is in this loss of understanding that we tend to lose much of the reverence we should possess in being called children of God.
Jesus identified with God as His Son, and in His recognition of that sonship, He strove to be like His Father in every aspect of His life. Entering into the world, Jesus was an extension of the Father's love, righteousness, justice, joy, peace, and faithfulness, on display for all humanity to see. In the example of Jesus, we see the epitome of sonship. In the example of Jesus we too can strive to be like Him, and become extensions of God to the world through becoming more like Him in our lives.
Jesus possessed an intimacy with the Father that is unmatched. He was united with God in both will and purpose, only seeking to glorify the Father by doing that which the Father commanded. It is in the example of Jesus that we as children of God should desire to reach that closeness and intimacy with the Father, becoming better representatives of Christ in this world by being an extension of God our Father. It is in this intimacy with God that we are able to truly experience the reconciliation He provided through the death of His Son for us. Our relationship is restored and we are given the opportunity to grow closer to Him, coming to understand what it means to be a child of God.