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A Role Model

Shema Israel

When the people of Israel were moving through the wilderness towards the Promised Land, Moses said to the people.
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long.”
(Deuteronomy 6:1-2)

Through Moses God said to the people, “Let your children and your children’s children keep all my decrees and commandments.” Why?
“[And] it will go well with you, and you will multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.” (Deuteronomy 6:3)
Then, God pinpoints the commandment that represents all the other commandments.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
This is The Greatest Commandment that comprises all the other commandments from God. Now God gives them instructions in detail for their observance.
“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

Be A Role Model

I am not a Jew. So I don’t read it literally. I do not bind them as a sign on my hand. And I wouldn’t fix them as an emblem on my forehead, either. I do not write them on the doorposts of my house and on my gates. Or, I don’t put them on like jewellery, either. Instead, when I was meditating on these verses, one sentence came up in my mind: Be a role model for your children.
Today God says to us through the Scripture that “Let your children and your children’s children keep all my decrees and commandments, and it will go well with you, and your life and your children’s lives will continue to be blessed like “a land flowing with milk and honey.” So, The Greatest Commandment is for us, too.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
And now we are all living in the New Testament times when Jesus re-declared The Greatest Commandment:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39)
So today we hear the Greatest Commandment ringing in our ears like this:
“Love the Lord your God, love yourself, and love your neighbour, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Our question is, Is it possible to love God, ourselves and our neighbour at the same time? I think so. Then, can we love God, ourselves and our neighbour, with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind? I think, it is a good question for another sermon. I will save it for my next sermon, and today when we are celebrating Father’s Day, let me focus on the following verses.
“Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
I have summarized these verses with one imperative: “Be a role model for your children.” I have chosen the words “a role model” because the ultimate model is Christ Jesus who is The Role Model for everyone. We fathers know that we should be a role model for our children. Of course, a positive role model. It is not an easy task, as we know. It requires of us, all fathers, a sense of responsibility and commitment as well as a heart of courage, wisdom, and discernment. Indeed, it is a heavy burden on our shoulders.
Then, our question is, How can I be a good role model for our children? I would like to share my story in the hope that it may help some fathers who are concerned about fatherhood, or struggling with being a role model.

By God’s grace

I became father at the age of twenty five when I was not ready to be. (Of course, I thought I was, but I have to confess that I was not). Firstly, I couldn’t feel it. I asked myself “Am I a daughter’ father?” Secondly, I had no idea about early education. I didn’t know what to do. Thirdly, I didn’t know that fatherhood is part of God’s calling. I didn’t realize that God had called me to be Hannah’s father.
Two years later I became a father of two children. I was not ready to be a father of two children. (Of course, I thought I was, but I think, I was not). Still I couldn’t feel that I was a father of two children. I didn’t know what to do in terms of early education. I was not aware that God had called me to be the father of Hannah and EJ.
Many years passed by. On the day when I was standing side by side with Hannah, I couldn’t feel that I was a father of a beautiful bride. I thought I was not that old. However, one thing that I know for sure was that I was Hannah’s father and I was called to be her father. I don’t know exactly when it was that I realized the calling. What was strange to me was that when I was enlightened about the calling I found Hannah standing on the other side, holding the hands of Yohan. Some more years gone now. Still I feel puzzled when I found myself convinced that God called me to be EJ’s father. It is strange, again. At the very moment of my another enlightenment, I saw him looking forward to his wedding day.
Now I think, I am ready to be their father. But they have already grown up and established their own family. I am not sure of what I did for them in terms of education; early, or teenage, education. I don’t know what kind of role model I have been for my children. The only thing I can tell is that I loved them and I tried to do my best despite my weaknesses.
Looking back on, I have found three important points that I should not miss out. Firstly, Sooyoung filled the gap that my immaturity created. She knew what to do. She knew what I didn’t know. Secondly, the brothers and sisters in Christ filled the gap that my lack of capacity made. I helped my family stay within the church all the time. This is the best thing that I did, I think. Thirdly, God’s grace, which is beyond my logical thought and my comprehension, filled the gap that my weaknesses left behind. Thankfully, my children do not remember all that I did wrong, and yet recall almost all the happy moments that we enjoyed together. Isn’t it grace?
God does not commend our weaknesses. He never encourage us to be unprepared. However, when He finds us weak and unprepared. He does not put any blame on us. As God sees us trying our best, despite our weaknesses, He willingly makes Himself be our great help. So, David declared,
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
I could have been a better role model for my children. It is wonderful grace, however, that God has been “my rock and my fortress” when I was struggling with my own immaturity, weaknesses, and lack of wisdom and discernment. So, I give thanks to God for His grace. Also I give thanks to Sooyoung for her loving care for our two children and for myself, and to all the brothers and sisters in Christ who were willing to walk together with me and with my family on this journey of faith.

The Calling

Being a father is a sacred task on which we are called. God called us to be someone’s father. We don’t need to be a perfect father. No, we can never be perfect, actually. Instead, in the midst of our weaknesses, we never give up trying our best. We admit that it is not an easy task. We know well that it requires of us a strong sense of responsibility and commitment as well as a heart of courage, wisdom, and discernment. Indeed, it is a very heavy burden on our shoulders.

However, Good News is that God helps us. God pours out his grace upon us and fills the gap that our weaknesses leave behind. Today I want us, all fathers, remember that grace comes through the community of God’s people, the Body of Christ, the sisters and brothers in Christ. As we love one another, wonderful grace overflows among us, silently and lavishly. So, we commit ourselves to His calling again, with a heart of gratitude.
Thanks be to God.
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Deuteronomy 6:1-9. “A Role Model.” Father’s Day 3 Sep 2017. Rev Joohong Kim. Crossway Community Church St Columba Presbyterian & Shirley Methodist.

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