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Reflecting the Father

7 months ago written by

As a longtime ink-stained wretch (print journalist), I’ve seen my share of gimmicks to get people to buy newspapers — especially in this information age when publishers are desperate to provide reasons for people to buy printed material when the same information often can be found online for free. One common practice is to run pages of parent-child look-alike photos at Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Sometimes the practice is treated as a contest with prizes given to the family members who look the most like each other. Hopefully (for the folks in the news business), each family will be excited to be featured and then will run to the convenience store or newspaper office and buy a stack for safekeeping and to pass to relatives. “Wow, Bobby Jr. really looks a lot like Bobby Sr.”

The practice has morphed into clickbait for websites — except the featured people aren’t the folks we’re likely to spot at the local grocery store (unless we’re in Los Angeles or New York City). People.com offers “17 Father-Son Pairs That Are Total Look-Alikes.” All of the featured dads and sons are celebrities.

As an adoptive father, I’ve had mixed feelings when I see these layouts. They can be cute, but I think, “My son and I aren’t ever going to be featured on one of these.” Then again, I may be wrong. When I arrived a few months ago at my son’s school to pick him up from his after-school program, a new worker said, “I knew you’re his dad. You two look so much alike.” I thought she was joking at first, but then I realized she was serious. A newspaper co-worker once made a similar observation based on my son’s baby picture in my cubicle. Even though we don’t share a direct genetic link or the same skin tone, some people see a resemblance. When my son recently put on my glasses one day, I realized I see a resemblance — and not just around the eyes. In this issue’s Feature article, Meghan Larissa Good mentions that children mimic their parents — even matching a distinctive stride.

But even if my son doesn’t look like my spitting image, I know he picks up phrases from my wife and me along with countless other people and media. When he was a kindergartner, I was stunned one day when I complained about something, and he replied, “Don’t blame me. I’m just the intern.” Google can’t find the source of that quote for me, but I’m sure he picked it up somewhere other than from my wife and me.

Back in 1979 (when I was a kindergartener), Amy Grant sang a song with “one wish” — that people would say, “She’s got her Father’s eyes.” As Bishop David Roller notes in this issue, the image of God doesn’t actually mean we look physically like God, but when people see us, they should be reminded of Him. As Grant sang, we need “eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain.”

Women and men are both made in the image of God. No matter what your race, age or occupation is, you’re made in the image of your Creator.

Sometimes, however, we don’t reflect “our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). We instead reflect a very different father: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Which father do people see in you and me: God, “the Father of lights” (James 1:17 KJV), or Satan, the father of lies? One way to make sure they see the former is to immerse ourselves in Scripture and then to live out what we read. In partnership with the Bible Project (bibleproject.com), Light + Life looks this month at what the Bible means by the “image of God.”

When we live out our faith and reflect God’s image, we will go in (discipleship), out (evangelism) and up (worship). These three themes will be explored further at General Conference 2019 (gc19.org). This issue kicks off a new temporary section that each month will include four articles by Free Methodists who are scheduled to speak or lead focus groups at GC19, which will be held July 16–19 in Orlando. I hope to see you there, and, in the meantime, may we live up to being God’s image-bearers.

Jeff Finley is the executive editor of Light + Life, which he joined in 2011 after working as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media.

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[Openers] · L + L February 2019