Monday, July 22, 2013

I want to be like...

Psalm 145:8-9 (NIV)

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
   slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
   he has compassion on all he has made.
A repeated theme here is the desire to live a life worthy of God, and to teach my children to do the same. What I rarely express is a desire to be more like God, though these two verses from Psalm 145 are certainly worth emulating.

Perhaps my reluctance here is related to what is either humility as it relates to God or an acceptance of my humanity and imperfection. Wanting to be like God can be good, but it also can be deeply problematic. When has the phrase “god complex” ever carried a positive connotation?

And yet wanting to be like Jesus is admirable among Christians, as well it should be. We ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Or, as in a good sermon I heard earlier this year, “What would Jesus have me do?” We sing the hymn, “Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart,” and whether or not we actually accomplish the goal, it seems an earnest prayer that sets us off with the best of intentions. Who better to use as a model?

Theology students might have fun poking holes in my logic here. If I am afraid to say I want to be like God, then why am I in such a hurry to want to be like Jesus, given Jesus is just as perfect? Don’t the same pitfalls exist? Or is there a distinction because Jesus also was fully human and led a perfect human life as an example for us to follow?

Those many questions aside, my takeaway for tonight is to work on being gracious and compassionate, to be slow to anger and to be rich in love. If I can be known as someone who is good to all, I think maybe I’ll be on the right side of things. And if I can raise children who flourish in the same manner, all that much the better.

These goals are important to me because I can readily recall the many times I’ve fallen short of their lofty standards. I am in need of constant reminders of what God expects — or demands — of me in this life. I don’t like feeling I’ve messed up a bunch, but I do like the feeling of being forgiven and the chance to try again.

A prayer for July 22:

Lord, teach me to show your grace and compassion to the world. Help me to stifle needless anger and to love fully as much as possible. Lead me down your path that I may show my children where to go as well. I want to change myself to be more like you, to let others see your love shine through my words and actions. I know I won’t be perfect, but I want to keep trying, and I need to you guide me. Amen.

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