Sermon audio below:
Genesis 1.26–28 NLT
“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
We’re continuing our series, “I LOVE YOU. PERIOD.” Last week we set the foundation for loving as God loves, imitating His love for us and the importance of showing that love to others. We’re running through this series with an understanding of the need for a love without commas and conditions. A love that ends with a period.
Today, we want to put our focus of love on children. Everyone in here is a child of someone; you came from a family of some sort. Many here are in the business of either raising children or educating them. And of all the many reasons that children are important, I want to mention one that isn’t often talked about.
When God created people, He made us in His image. The significance of being made in God’s image is in the understanding that we reflect God in our very being. By creating us, God has multiplied His presence throughout the Earth. Being that God is a holy, loving, redeeming God, there is nothing more loving, more precious than a constant reminder of His glory and love spread across the world through stewards of His love and influence. We, people, are quite a gift to the world.
This shows us that our very creation is one filled with intention and purpose. It means that if God has a will and a plan, then we are a part of that will and plan, charged with the task of reflecting both His presence and His gifts to the world.
But sin has marred the holy image in us and damaged the reflection of God’s love and glory that we are to spread throughout the earth. This is evidenced in the great evil we witness in our selfishness and failings. This is why Christ has come, to restore the image of God in us so that we can continue our task of spreading God’s image once again. Jesus is the perfect image of God on Earth. Hebrews 1.3 puts it like this, “[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”. Beautiful words that capture Jesus’ purpose as coming to restore us and show us what it means to reflect God in this world.
So what does this have to do with children and loving “period”? Just as God is Father of all and is raising each of us up to live as reflections of His glory, we are to raise up the children of this world to live as Christ lived. As parents and guardians of holiness and life, our role is to train up each generation in the way of God. Only through Jesus can we successfully accomplish this mission.
In the family of God, each of us is a parent, reflecting Jesus, not just to the non-Christian, but to the young and the young-in-faith. We play an important role in fulfilling our created purpose by simply being faithful. Through our faithfulness we are modeling and giving evidence to the life of the Holy Spirit within us.
How are the children to know how to pray if it is not we who pray with them and around them? How are the children to know the scriptures if it is not we who read it to them and live out its principles in front of them? How are the children to maintain a habit of worship if we are not engaging them in such a faith-sustaining practice?
There is not a person in this room who would deny a hungry child food and yet we deny our children the heavenly bread every time we miss opportunities to pray, search the scriptures, serve, or worship together. This is not meant to be a guilt trip but it is meant to call us into reflecting the glory of God to those closest to us; to those whom we have been given charge over as parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, teachers and neighbors.
The I LOVE YOU. PERIOD comes into play when we rid ourselves of any excuse not to train up our little ones. Many of you have heard the scriptures when they say, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). We wonder why the Church experiences such a tough time and then we come face to face with the fact that our children are more proficient with iPads than they are with their Bibles. Children today know how to search for anything they want on YouTube, but do they know how to find hope in the Scriptures?
To love our children with a period means to take every opportunity to include them in our reflecting faith. If we love with a comma, we tell them we love them but we fail to show them what that real love looks like.
The challenge today is look around, to see those both young and young-in-faith and to reflect the love of the Father to them. It is every persons created purpose. If we took others under our wing, trained them in the ways of God, there is nothing they could not endure. We are a reflection of the God of the impossible!
But I will say this: each of you can also relax. Even though our shared created purpose is to reflect the glory of God in this world, you are also children—children still in training, still growing, still being perfected by the love of God. You are not perfect images and Jesus is not done with you yet. This is an encouragement to stay close to Christ, to learn from the Master, to watch those who have progressed in the faith and to see God working mightily in them. God desires to do that same work in you.
Go today and love through reflection. Train and be trained. Be a parent to those without them. Be an obedient child to who can teach you. Love with a period that proves God’s work in your heart and spread that work in your faithfulness. Amen.