Without clear theological and perhaps more importantly, experiential knowledge (which I call revelation) of God as Father our Christian faith & identity remains insecure. A deeper understanding of God as Father has at least four implications. Have a look at the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.
Grows Dependence vs11-14
You get two kinds of people; those who realize their dependence on God as Father, and those who don’t. A child needs its parents. Here we have a young man who thought that he didn’t need his Father. He sought financial, and spiritual independence from his Father. There are times when we deliberately seek out independence, we think can or should do this in our own strength.
Yet Jesus makes dependence upon God a prerequisite to being a Christian. In Matthew 18:1-3 the disciples are arguing about who is the greatest. Jesus then holds up a little infant and says to them “Unless you change and become like little infants you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven”. Human babies are probably the most helpless, vulnerable and needy creatures in creation. The disciples need a reality check. They are proud and in essence Jesus says, no you are infants, and you need to change your attitude, you need to change your perspective, you are helpless, you are vulnerable. Recognizing our dependence upon Father God changes the way we live. Its ok to be in need, in fact God wants you to depend on him. Its almost silly that Jesus has to tell us to “ask and it will be given” and let us know that our “our heavenly Father knows what you need”. Those who don’t depend daily on God as Father live with anxiety and stress.
Guides Destiny vs. 15-17
The younger son in the parable had messed up big time. He had spent all his cash on camel drag races, fancy Egyptian beer and one too many falafels. But then it says “he came to his senses”. What does this mean? He realized “I’m not a slave, I’m the son of a wealthy land owner, this is not my destiny, I don’t belong here”. A deep realization of who you are determines where you go. We sometimes ask “God what must I do with my life?” And God says “behold the old has gone and the new has come, you are a new creation in Christ”, you so but what must I do? And God says “you are the head and not the tale” But what must I do? “How I long to gather you like a mother hen gathers her chicks”. The central question in the New Testament is not “what must I do?” Its “who are the people of God?” Have you come to your senses child? Do you know you are a loved and accepted child of God? Because this changes everything. The tiniest revelation of the love of the Father will so absolutely change you that your destiny becomes irrelevant, “I don’t care where I’m going, just as long as you are with me” says Moses, “If you do not go, I will not go” Its his presence we should long for “I just want to be with you Father” “It’s your presence I long for, not answers about my future because my faithless heart which struggles to leave that in your hands.” Concern about my destiny, my contribution, my significance is just another form of independence from the Father. Why do we need to understand God as Father? Its not a successful career or a life of worldly significance but the reassuring knowledge that you are the son or daughter of a king.
Determines who we are vs. 18-20
So, he is on his way home and he is rehearsing. You ever rehearse like this? He’s walking with his head down “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants”.
How do you deal with low self-esteem? The good news is that down is up in kingdom of God. I am strong when I am weak, for Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness. This is the perfect condition for a revelation of grace. Why is the holy Bible laden with unholy stories of sinful men and women. Because they knew that it wasn’t anything they had done to make God love them. When God takes away the possibility that his love for you is just a returned favor, then you truly can feel loved. If you still think there is some good that you can offer God then you have not yet experienced his love. When you truly know, in your heart of hearts, I am not worthy to be called your son your daughter, when you feel that guilt and shame deep in your soul, and you realize that even your good works are rubbish, and he still blesses and loves you, then you start to understand who you are.
The Father’s heart vs. 20-24
Why do we need to understand God as Father? Because it reveals the Father heart of God. It shows us who God is and how he loves his children?
- Intimately (The Father runs after the son, hugs and kisses him)
- Desperately (The Father was waiting for the son, perhaps this was his custom to go out everyday hoping that he would see his son, when he does he ran after him)
- Graciously (welcomes the son after been he has been publically rejected, he clothes his son and throws an expensive party after son took half of all his belongings and he doesn’t let the son continue with his apology and proposition to work as a hired hand and buts in to tell the servants to clothe the son)
- Compassionately (The Father is genuinely empathetic and at first sight of his returned son starts to feel a deep compassion in his gut, which then explodes in emotion and has the Father running to his son)
- Proudly (The Father clothes the son with attire appropriate to the family status. The best coat, a ring and sandals. The Father has a fattened calf slain which could feed some 60 to 80 people and invites the town to a welcome home party for his son)
- Generously (The son hasn’t asked for anything which shows that the Father actually wants to give his son stuff)
- Joyfully (They are feasting and the son’s presence makes the Father really happy)
Have you recognized your inability to justify yourself? Or are you tiresomely working at self-justification? What sinful practice fills you with guilt and shame? Why? Hear the Father’s heart, I love you child, just the way you are.