Look just like your dad

"Tell your dad you have an excellent GPA."
I was at a transfer day at one of the colleges I've applied to, and the woman checking over my previous credits looked up and said that.

It threw me for a second because she'd never met my dad, and I always think I'm being very clear that I'm the only member of my family who lives in, or has any reason to go to, St. Louis.

But then I realized what had happened. She'd spotted a large, bearded guy next to me in the lobby when she came to find me. He was there for the same thing I was; applying to school, but since we were sitting and talking together, and looked a little similar, she assumed we were related.

While I was pet-sitting a week or so later, I was out for the dog's morning walk and ran into another dog-walker. She looked at the dog, and looked at me, and said, "Doesn't your dad usually walk him?" I explained that no, I was a friend of the family, not a relative. But with both of those stories, I apparently "looked just like my dad."

Jesus told us that anyone who has seen Him has seen God the Father. And St. Paul writes that "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Taking those together, since people are supposed to see and know the Father through Christ, and see Christ through His followers, we as Christians are supposed to "look just like our Heavenly Father."

So how do we do that?

What does God do? And how can we do those same things?

We know that God is a creator. I tell everyone who will listen that one way to experience a connection with God is to create something-- bread, lamps, artwork, antique cars-- I think one of the reasons we're seeing people with such fragile faith lately is that not enough people know how to make things themselves. So we miss the experience of knowing how much a creator cares for what he's created.

And we know that God is a storyteller, and that God's people are keepers and sharers of that story. The theologian Martin Buber wrote that "it is possible to listen someone into existence." Today when Christians end up in the news, they tend to be denouncing something. I think we need to spend more time listening to the stories of the people we want to reach with the Gospel, so that we will be able to identify with their lives and figure out how God's story will reach them most powerfully.

Most importantly, we know that God is mysterious. And that He is bigger than us, and our understanding, and our way of worshiping. One of the most important qualities I look for in volunteers is an ability to say, "I don't know." People want to wonder; that's why school classrooms are using more debate and conversation, letting teachers and students discover things together instead of having an expert download information into students. And God's church needs to make a bigger deal out of showing people that we all wonder together about God.

It's vital for us to "look just like our Dad." Not "just like our denomination." Not "just like our senior pastor." Not "just like our youth group." And those are my thoughts about a few of the ways we can start.

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