Reflections on Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and wow–was I blessed by my family!  I got to preach at a good friend’s church in the morning, and then spend great family time with my wife and kids & grandson–grilling, laughing, sharing gifts.  It got me thinking about our radically wonderful relationship with God, our Father.  We give gifts to our earthly fathers on Father’s Day. Isn’t it amazing that our Heavenly Father has given the perfect gift to each one of us:  the unspeakable gift of His Son, Jesus Christ and His Righteousness!

It’s interesting that there are only about 15 or so references in the entire Old Testament to God as Father.  Yet in John’s Gospel alone, there are over 100 references to God as Father. Over 170 in all four Gospels and more than 250 in the entire New Testament.

When we talk about God being our Father–for many, that can conjure up a distorted view of God.  Either because of some Old Testament verses or because our earthly father might not have been a nice man, or may have never been around, so we have difficulty imagining God as a loving Father.

God is not only loving; He IS Love. (1 Jn 4:8,16)  And His love is above & beyond and unlike any human concept of love or experience we have had with our own earthly father.

Love to us is an emotion; a feeling.  It can certainly be a wonderful feeling to love and to be loved and know you are loved.  Love is much more than merely an emotion to God.  Love is who He is and is expressed by what He does.  The love of God is manifested and demonstrated to us in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and ultimately at the Cross.

James 1:17  “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” NKJV

We often think, Jesus came to change God’s mind about man; when in fact, Jesus came to change man’s mind about God!  

Jesus came to reveal the Father!

Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father.”

He revealed & displayed a relationship with God that was revolutionary. Unparalleled.  Everything He said & did, was to reveal the Father to us:  “This is how you should pray.”  When you pray…..say….”our Father!”  In other words, call God, “your Father!”

The religious leaders wanted to kill Him, for calling God His Father!  That represented a familiarity; a relationship with God that no one would ever presume was even remotely possible for a man & God.  They had no concept that long before the foundation of the world, God the Father has been passionately in love with His Son. It’s almost impossible to describe the nature and character of this love. Love that is far more than just feelings. Love that is Life itself–Divine Substance.  And that love has been eternally focused on the Son.  At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke from heaven– “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17)  At that point, Jesus had done nothing to warrant or “earn” God’s love.  He was purely loved as a Son.

There are many verses that describe & illustrate Jesus’ relationship with His Father:

Jn 3:35  “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand”

Jn 8:29  “I always do the things that please my Father.”

Jn 10:30  “I and my Father are one.”

We can say, Hooray for Jesus!!  And view that relationship as a spectator or an outsider.  But Jesus didn’t come so that we would remain spectators–He came to invite us into this very relationship of Father-Son in the Spirit.

Listen to Jesus’ words to us:

Jn 16:27  “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved Me.”

Jn 20:17  “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

Jesus actually said, in Matt 23:9  “call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.”

It’s such an important thing to grasp and it’s so life transforming to know you are loved by the Heavenly Father.  But, it can be really hard to believe it.  Why is that?

Because we look at ourselves and our life and it just seems impossible that God could really feel that way about ME. You might believe the theology of it.  Or you might feel it would be true if you DID something (like read the Bible more, or prayed more, or fasted or witnessed, or if you STOPPED doing something), and you’ve tried that route, but eventually failed, so in your head, you disqualified yourself.

We think we know ourselves too well for us to walk with a conviction that God truly loves ME. So, it stays a doctrine that you say amen to…but in your head, you can’t help but think “how could He love ME like that?”

One of our most basic needs as humans is the need for appreciation.  The need to be loved.  We long for it.  Nothing harms a relationship or self image more than feeling unappreciated or taken for granted.

The word, appreciate means “to recognize full worth.”  It’s a Latin word that literally means “the appraised price” or the full price on the price tag.

It has been said that the value of something is based on the price someone is willing to pay to get it.  God saw enough value in every person to justify the price He paid for humanity’s redemption from sin, guilt, fear, and shame.  He successfully redeemed His image and likeness in us.  God paid the FULL PRICE FOR US!

Matt 13:44  “The kingdom from heaven is like treasure hidden in a field that a man found and hid. In his excitement he went and sold everything he had and bought that field.”  NIV

Your personality (the reflection of God’s image & likeness in you) is the “treasure” hidden in the field, that the Father spent all that He had to purchase you!

The Gospel is the revelation of how God paid the highest price for us.   God knows you, and has always “known you”  (Jer 1:5a “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”).  He’s known you & loved you, before you had any opportunity to impress Him OR disappoint Him.  He knew you before He formed you and what He knew about you then, is still His only reference about who you are!  Nothing that you have done, that you thought would impress Him or disappoint Him has changed His mind about you!  He knows your original “value” and He has paid the highest price to redeem ownership of your life in order to persuade you and convince you, of what He believes about you!  How much He loves and values you!

God sees the value of each one of us!  And always has.

From all eternity, God has never been alone and solitary, but lives as Father, Son, and Spirit in a glorious relationship of absolute Oneness. There is no judgement in this circle. The Trinity’s life is like a ‘dance’ of communion and intimacy.  That life is passionate, self-giving, other-centered and delightful. This life is good.  It is unique, it is “holy” which means “apartness; there’s nothing like it”.  It’s full of joy, blessing and peace. Such love, and fellowship is the womb of the universe and of humanity.

The stunning truth is that the triune God, in amazing and extravagant love, determined to open the circle and share their inner life with us. This is the one reason for the creation of the universe and of human life.   Before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son, and Spirit set their love upon us and planned for us to share and know and experience their life.

For this reason they spoke the universe into being, and the human race was created. Adam and Eve were given a place in the coming of Jesus Christ, in and through whom the dream of our being included would be accomplished.

Before creation, it was decided that the Son would cross every gulf between the triune God and humanity and establish a real and abiding relationship with us–one of union. Jesus was predestined to be the Mediator, the One through whom the very life of the triune God would enter our life, and we would be lifted up to share in their’s.

When Adam and Eve fell, darkness and misery entered into God’s creation, but the Father, Son, and Spirit did not abandon their dream; instead, they incorporated our darkness and sin into their plan of inclusion. The Son became human.  He submitted himself to our anger and blindness and suffered a murderous death at our hands.  Jesus established a real and abiding relationship with fallen humanity at our very worst—and He brought his Father and the Holy Spirit with Him. It was in Jesus, and in His death at our hands, that the Trinity tabernacled in our hell on earth, in our brokenness, shame, and sin, and in so doing included us into their life.

In the life, death, resurrection & ascension of Jesus, the Holy Spirit made His way into human pain & blindness and brought deliverance & healing. Now the Spirit works to reveal Jesus in us so that we can each personally meet Him, and know His Father with Him. The Holy Spirit helps us know and experience Jesus’ own relationship with his Father and live with Jesus in the Father’s embrace.

We’ve made being a Christian a lifestyle of rules & doctrines,

when being a Christian is being brought into a

relationship that has existed for all eternity.

You & I have been brought into the One who is the eternal object of affection in the Father’s heart!

You & I have become a partaker of the eternal, indescribable, unspeakable love that flows from God the Father…… to God the Son……. by God the Holy Spirit.  You & I are floating in the middle of that River of Love!

There is not anything that you could ever do to either earn or to disqualify you from the Father’s love.  Paul says, “NOTHING can separate us from the love of God!”  (Rom 8:39)

Before you or I could ever do anything to earn or disqualify ourselves…..Christ died for us!

God says, “Son or daughter, I created you in my image & likeness!  I am the One that gave you life and sustains it every moment of every day!  It’s in Me that you live and move & have your being!”

We each create & hold on to a self-imposed identity or image of ourselves.  We’re like the prodigal son, “But Father, I’ve done all these bad things.  I’m not worthy.”  There is a greater reality about your life than your opinion of it; than your behavior or the life you’ve lived so far.

It’s about your IDENTITY as a Son or Daughter.

The Father’s image of you in Christ is more relevant than anything that has ever happened in your past, is happening to you now, or will happen in the future.  If anything has happened in your life that has caused pain, shame, fear, anger, resentment, self pity or regret—it is now past tense and history.

Whoever you thought you were; or someone made you become…..Paul says, Behold, in Christ, “all things have been made new!”  It’s time to stop focusing on the old and focus on the new.

Your true and original value has been redeemed in Jesus Christ.  

Your identity or value is not based on what you do or don’t do; it’s based on what Jesus has already done!  

Giving us the very life of the Son as our own life is the revelation of what being a Christian is all about.

YOU & I HAVE BEEN SWEPT INTO A TIDAL WAVE OF ETERNAL LOVE BETWEEN THE TRINITY BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN BROUGHT INTO THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST.

What an amazing Father’s Day gift!

It’s your’s today and everyday!

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