Equal…But Different

With four kids, you would think the law of averages would have yielded a situation where at least two of my kids would have similar personalities; uh…No. I can’t think of four more disparate individuals on earth. Obviously, age is a factor in that as they are all three years apart and there are two boys and two girls. However, as I am sure any parent will tell you, their tendencies can even be traced back to the time they were in the bassinet next to our bed for the first few months of their lives.

While sneaking away with my eight year old daughter for a long overdo “daddy date night”, I was surprised as she innocently asked if she was my favorite. After a long enough pause to recognize the opportunity as a teaching moment (and long enough to resist the temptation to say “sometimes”) I told her that mom and dad love each of our kids exactly equal…but different.

My daughter’s no-nonsense, straight shooting disposition then revealed itself when she said that absolutely made no sense at all. In some ways I think she is right. There is no real way to explain the parental instinct that identifies and appreciates all the intricate nuances of our children and what makes them different. We appreciate their unique qualities and suffer their annoyances with such individuality that we often begin to wonder if we truly do play favorites!

I couldn’t help but think about how often my view of God’s love gets trapped in a global perspective. My tendency is to think about God’s love for his people as a whole, not with the individuality demonstrated in the life of Christ by His unique appreciation for the character and persona of each of the disciples. I realize that I often incorrectly view God’s love like one might view the love of a father for his children, only in the sense that his love for them is simply because they are his children. On the contrary, my personal experience as a father reveals to me just how uniquely tailored His love for me really is. It is so unfathomable that it truly does make absolutely no sense at all.

God’s love is not an obligatory love, or a love out of responsibility. It is a delighting type of love mirrored imperfectly, but effectively, by the wonderful delight we have of the unique puzzle that makes up the hearts of our kids. In turn, our appreciation of this expansive capability of God’s individual love for us only magnifies His glory.

Consider Jesus and the distinctive manner in which He deals with Peter’s denial after the crucifixion in John 21. Peter is impulsive by nature. He quickly boasts about his allegiance, quickly denies his love and literally jumps ship to swim to shore at the very sight of the risen Christ. Jesus subsequently deals with Peter in a unique way that appealed to his personality, his weaknesses, and his insecurities. Why would we think He would deal with us any other way?

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