Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. (Matthew 19:16-18 NIV)
In the garden, Adam and his wife were tricked. They were basically told that if they did something (ate from the tree) then they would become like God. It sounded good, but it was a trap and one we have all fallen for.
I guess all of us, in our heart, want to be like God or want to please him. Maybe not a bad motivation but not the one that fashions our relationship with him. In fact, the lie told to Adam and his wife is the one we often listen to. "What must I do?" When we live like this it's tiring. In reality, we have no idea if we are doing the right thing. It may be the right thing on one occasion but completely wrong on another.
This trap has drawn us away from our eternal destiny where we were meant to live as sons and daughters. Walking like Jesus and only doing what we see the Father doing.
The secret is not to live from the tree of knowledge of good and evil but to live from the tree of life. The expression of life itself.
The rich young ruler had done the right things all his life yet he still asked the question "what must I do?" That question never satisfies because principally we are not doers but recipients of the flow of life from Heaven into our heart.
Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:3 NIV)
When we look at the life of Jesus we see that his identity was not defined by what he did but by who he was. Satan's attack on Jesus, like those of the Pharisees, was that he said he was the Son of God.
Whilst spiritual gifts are important and necessary for the life of the church they are not the things which give us our identity. We desperately need more of the gifts of the Spirit and we should earnestly desire them (1 Cor 12:31).
Paul tells us they are good but he also tells us there is another way which is the more excellent way of love. In 1 Corinthians 13 he is not principally talking about our love for others but the Father's love for us. This is the best and most important way, more necessary and vital to us than the gifts of the Spirit. This is the way that leads to life. As we become rooted and grounded in love we will discover the ultimate gift that will never fail or let us down. It is the gift that goes beyond and outlasts all other gifts. A life of love is the one we should pursue with all our heart.
Whilst we desire the gifts of the Spirit, we should chase after love or make it our greatest aim. The gifts of the Spirit have their place but it is ultimately only love which transforms lives.
As our heart is filled with the love of the Father we will start to see him face to face and become known by him (1 Cor 13:12).
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is who we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1 NIV)
Sadly, our image of God is often distorted as we view him through the filter of our earthly parents. When we've been looking through a filter the only way to see clearly is to remove the filter.
Sometimes it's not easy to remove the filter as the mindset it has created has become a part of us. However, we do not need to let our historical view of God define our future relationship with him.
Our true Father is the perfect Father and he is with us through the good times as much as the difficult times. He never leaves us, nor does he let us down. He is always faithful and his love for us is constant and unimaginably amazing. Too often we know him as a father, rather than knowing him being a Father to us. One is piece of information, the other describes a heart relationship.
His love for you and me is extravagant. It's like going to a feast where there is almost too much to eat. You feel you want to try a bit of everything that is laid out but there's just too much. You don't want to miss anything but you don't have the capacity to try everything. The Father's love is like that, it's overwhelmingly generous.
Traditionally, the religious and historical picture of God has not been a father but a distant (and often angry) God. This is not the Biblical picture. As we remove the filters we will see him as he really is. The eyes of our heart will see not just a father, but we will see and experience him being a Father to us. We will know that his eternal love is being poured into our heart and that we are truly loved.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you (the Father), the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3 NIV)
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. (John 17:6 NIV)
We have a revelation when we see something that was previously hidden. It's an experience which enables us to grasp something that we didn't know or understand. A revelation changes the complex into something blindingly obvious.
Reading through the Old Testament, we often see God described as a father but somehow his people could never see or experience him as one. In their mind, God remained distant and someone they were unable to have a personal relationship with.
It took the coming of God's son, Jesus, before we were able to glimpse the real nature of God as Father, as our Father. In Matthew 11:25-27 Jesus tells us that he came to reveal his Father and that revelation will lead to us discovering a life of rest and dependency on him. We can discover the easy yoke of relationship which will free us to walk as Jesus walked.
The wonderful thing is, Jesus goes on revealing the Father (John 17:26) and it is something he wants to do for us, I believe on a daily basis. Jesus reveals the Father's nature and character and he shows us that we are loved in exactly the same way as he is loved. He enables us to see who God really is.
We are personally invited to embrace all that Jesus reveals so we know we are truly loved by the Father and that we are rooted and grounded in his love for us.
A Father to YOU is a signpost to the heart of the Perfect Father. When we became Christians we were given the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Sadly, many of us fail to take up that right and instead continue to live as slaves or orphans. But our true destiny is being sons and daughters who have a permanent place in the Father's family. This blog is an encouragement to help you know who God really is and who you really are.