When a son or daughter is born it’s OK for father to dream a little, to dream of playing catch, going fishing, watching his child win a race or sing with a rich, pleasing voice, and eventually become a great writer, lawyer, doctor, or (heaven forbid) a politician. Often the dreams turn into expectations, which can be either good or bad. Bad if they are unrealistic or pushed in demanding, unloving ways. Good if they come with love, support, and a growing freedom.
I don’t know if my father dreamed of anything special when I was born but as I grew up I learned of his expectations. I learned that he expected me to do what I was told and if given a chore to do it right. I learned that there could be unpleasant consequences when I did the wrong thing. He didn’t say a lot. In fact, his expectations were communicated by his behavior – he worked hard, he was honest, he enjoyed many friends, he supported his family, and served Christ and his church faithfully. And this is what he wanted for his children. Thinking about this I wondered, what would Dad have said if I had asked him, just what do you expect of me in life?
And then, as I thought about this meditation for Father’s day I began to imagine God the Father having a similar conversation with his Son, Jesus. God speaks to his son: “Jesus, it appears that mankind has made a mess of everything and there’s no way they can set things right. They have totally alienated me by their hatred and violence, their greed and lust, their divisions and selfishness. I want you to go to them, as one of them, show them how a human being should live. Then I expect you to take upon yourself the guilt of their sin and make atonement for them. It will not be easy. You will suffer and die but through it all I expect you to love them and forgive them.”
If Jesus had not been one with the Father such expectations might have crippled him. It certainly would overwhelm any of us. But as 2 Cor 5:19-21 says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”
Jesus did what God expected. Now our heavenly father expects something of us, his children. As Paul said, we have a ministry, a word of reconciliation, we are ambassadors saying to the world, “Be reconciled to God.” And, because we are his children, his family, be reconciled to each other.