By Mimi Greenwood Knight
When I was a kid growing up, any time I left the house my father said the same thing. “Remember you’re a Greenwood.” His meaning was clear. “As you go, so goes our family’s reputation. Guard it!”
Any time one of my eleven brothers and sisters or I started out the door on a date, to school, to church, to a friend’s house, or to our part-time jobs, that one sentence told us our daddy expected us to remember who we were—and whose we were—and to act accordingly. To remember that everything we did, every decision we made, every word we uttered was a reflection on him, our mother, and the rest of the family. For me it was a point well taken.
More than once in high school or college, when I was tempted to do something reckless (and worry about the consequences later), I’d hear my daddy’s words. “Remember you’re a Greenwood.” It was like having him there, looking over my shoulder—not waiting to reprimand me if I made the wrong choice, but expecting to be proud of me when I made the right one.
When I became a Christian, my dad had been dead almost 20 years. I suppose that’s why the name for God I relate to most is “Abba,” which translates to “Daddy.” Having grown up with a father who was loving but could be tough when he needed to be, it’s easy for me to think of my Heavenly Father the same way. I loved my dad. I had a great time with my dad. But—make no mistake—I had a proper fear of my dad when I needed to. At 54 with four kids of my own, I still need an Abba I can both love and fear as much as I ever have.
These days, as I walk out into the world to go to work, the grocery store, to volunteer at my kids’ school, or headed anywhere else, I need to remember that the things I say and do, the decisions I make, and the words I utter represent God and the rest of His family. Pretty big responsibility, huh?
“Too many people don’t want to be a Christian because of the Christians they’ve known.”
I heard a preacher say once, “Too many people don’t want to be a Christian because of the Christians they’ve known.” It broke my heart to wonder, “Have I ever done anything to make Christianity look so unappealing that someone wouldn’t want any part of it?” I sure hope not. But it’s something every child of God should reflect upon.
The word Christian, when literally translated, means “Little Jesus.” 1 John 2:6 tells us, “Whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” I have to ask myself, when nonbelievers look at me, listen to my words, and witness my lifestyle and attitudes, do they see a “Little Jesus?” Do they see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, as Paul spells out in Galatians 5:22? Do they see me loving the unlovely (Matthew 5:46-48), forgiving those who wrong me (Luke 23:34), serving freely as Jesus did (John 13:14), and loving as freely He loved (John 15:12)? Do I daily give myself as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2) as He did? Am I “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29) as He was?
For me it helps to remember that just as my earthly father watched over me not waiting for me to make a wrong choice but empowering me to make a right one, my heavenly Father stands beside me now, not waiting to condemn me when I mess up (which I do often enough) but giving me the strength and wisdom to make the right choices and live according to His perfect plan for me.
This is our challenge as Christians as we live our lives day to day, as we work, play, shop, parent, wait in line at the DMV, and drive in rush hour traffic. Remember you’re a Christian and the world is watching to see what being a child of our Heavenly Father really means.