God’s Pleasure and Family Resemblances.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

A real area of growth for me in the past year has been letting go of some of the “high standards” I’ve set for myself. These standards didn’t come from anywhere good; they were mainly about trying to prove myself somehow, to make myself a more acceptable and worthy individual, since I was convinced that the way I was, naturally, was terrible and had to be fixed. 

There are a couple things wrong with this line of thinking. Sadly, I think it is very common,though, since this world we live in (as Brene Brown explains so well in her book Daring Greatly) tells us we’re never enough. I knew I wasn’t enough, was overwhelmed by the fact that I could never be enough, and was fighting against that haunting fear tooth and nail. It was kind of like getting into a fist-fight with high-tide: no matter how much you punch those waves, you’re going to get pummeled anyway, and also kind of look like an idiot. 

How often are we kept up at night, worrying:

What if I can’t do it? What if at the end of my life, I realize I failed? What if I let my family down? My friends down? What if I try, put everything on the line, and it ends up being all for nothing? 

There’s an underlying false assumption under these concerns though: it assumes it’s possible to create our own intrinsic worthiness. And here’s the bad news: we can’t. We are incapable of making ourselves more or less worthy of anything.

But that’s where this idea about God’s pleasure comes in, as well as the importance of family resemblance. God delights in His Son who looks just like Him; that’s easy enough, but not always super-tangible to me, especially when I’m feelings especially bad about me and my life. So I turn instead to my own family, and where I see this reflected there. And I find it clearly in my niece and nephew, and the way I see them and love them. 

For example, my niece doesn’t have to do anything to bring me happiness when I spend time with her. She only has to run over to me, call me “Nonnie Emma!” and lift up her arms to be picked up. I can’t help but light up and grin from ear to ear when I see her. My nephew just has to tell me a funny knock-knock joke, and I’m done. I rehash the things they do and say to my husband ad-nauseam. I find so much pleasure in them, not because of anything they actually do. They didn’t earn my pleasure at all.

Image

Me and my niece, watching my dad and her brother sledding. 

 

And on that note, my family will spend a lot of time talking about the ways my niece and nephew remind us of how they look or act like someone else in the family. Sometimes it’s something that’s a bit negative; sometimes it’s the way they look, or their interests. Regardless, these similarities are celebrated, seen as a badge of pride, almost, that even though they’ve only been around for a few years, they’re a part of the larger whole. They got it from the family, the same DNA: They’re a part of us all.

So when Paul says that on this side of heaven, we’re still being transformed into God’s likeness, from one degree of glory to another by being in God’s presence, this is the same kind of pleasure God gets from his children. Because we’ve been adopted as God’s children through Jesus Christ, we take on that glorious resemblance. We didn’t have to do anything to earn this pleasure, and there isn’t anything we can do to destroy this bond. Certainly, this doesn’t give us carte blanche to do whatever we want, but this does take some of that legalistic pressure off of us: 

We are loved, accepted, and transformed by God. We live in a covenant of freedom. There’s a family resemblance between God and His people, and we bring Him pleasure as his children. 

 

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