I find myself stunned by the calm dignity of Jesus Christ. In the face of so much that was designed to mock and humiliate and break Him, when He is asked “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” He says, “I am.” It seems that so often there was an assault upon Jesus’ identity, His awareness of who He was… and is and ever will be. The temptation story makes that clear. Read it in Matthew Chapter 4 when you get the time.
Perhaps there are things you are going through or parts of your life story that seem to mock the idea that you are a son or daughter dearly loved by your Heavenly Father. How do we strengthen ourselves in God to be able to meet and deal with arrows that are fired against our security? To me it is obvious that Jesus spent time with His Father. It seems so obvious that it should not need to be stated, but after 34 years as a pastor I have found that when things begin to fall to bits in spiritual life it is rarely because we have missed some esoteric point of doctrine, or failed to understand some elusive secret open only to mystics or ascetics or to those who know the original languages in which the bible was written, or have read the latest academic book by a German theologian… in German! It is usually because we have not understood the ABC’s in the first place, or have allowed the most obvious things necessary to sustain spiritual life to slip.
Are you spending time with your Heavenly Father? I know personally and as a minister that it is possible to be carried along by a lot of different currents which provide a sort of spiritual adrenalin type of strength, which can feel great for a while but usually leads to a crash. I can be carried along by the desire to debate a point on Facebook, to win the argument. I see many Christians are similarly occupied and I am not sure it helps commend Christ. Indeed I am not too sure it does anything other than reassure wavering Christian, while further distancing non believers in the process. There is a great danger of playing to the evangelical crowd for their approval and applause. Donald Trump is not alone there! There is all the difference in the world between the anointing of cleverness and the anointing of the wisdom. I have known both and they are very different in their fruit because they are different in their source. According to James, one is from below, the other is from above. I find I can also be carried along by a commitment to some cause or other, or with a desire to promote my bandwagon or leap on another. Eventually, however, I notice when I am living from any other place than security in the love of my Heavenly Father, that I have become graceless, driven and feel a nagging sense that something has gone wrong. I may even still be preaching and ministering the truth of God’s Word, but something has gone wrong. Normally what has gone wrong is that time spent with my Father has been marginalised. Has that happened for you? Have you marginalised time spent with the Father, loving Him and allowing Him to assure you that you belong to Him?
I hope hunger for that sense of true communion rather than formal or driven relationship is alive and well in you and if not, I am praying as I write that God will restore it to you. I think I particularly want to say quite simply, it is OK to want to know that you really are a child of God, loved by Him. For some reason I picked up an impression in my early Christian years that to want to know the love of the Father in a palpable way meant that I was psychologically in want, that I was some sort of light weight Christian, one of those type of Christians who liked the Living Bible rather than the NIV! ((Actually I use both, but why do I need the feel to say that? Will “Self” ever recognise truly that it is dead? Fear of man, even our fellow believers is a snare!) Over the years I have come to agree with a friend now in glory, that the felt love of God is the answer to everything.
So I am praying that you will have a hunger for true communion and I am praying that if someone is trying to pacify your cry for that too easily you will not listen to them no matter how orthodox and committed to the Word of God they seem to be. Follow the hunger and the smell of bread in your spiritual nostrils! Let God himself pacify that legitimate need of a child in you to know that you are loved, to feel that you are loved rather than simply accept it as a doctrine, though accepting it as a doctrine matters. According to Paul in the opening Chapter of Ephesians we are deeply included in Christ and therefore in the Father’s love for Christ when 3 things happen. First we are to “hear” the good news. Secondly we are to “believe” and thirdly we are to be “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. When something was sealed in bible days it was a way of saying, “This is mine. This belongs to me.” I am not sure why some preachers will talk a lot about hearing the good news and believing, but encourage their hearers that to hear and to believe is enough for us to be deeply in Christ. Maybe those of us who want to be biblical are not as biblical as we think we are! Why do we encourage people to stop short in their experience of the love of God?
Let me therefore put it this way: Have you been sealed by the Spirit? Has there come into your heart an assurance that God your heavenly Father has said, “You are mine and you are mine forever!” Have you said in reply, “I know… at last I really know!” Being Spirit sealed, deeply assured, is what your Father wants for you, so that no matter what happens, how deeply painful your experience of life may have been or may yet be, no matter how you have been humiliated or done things that you are ashamed of, you can hold your head high in Christ and say, “I am a child of God.”
Take time to be with your Father. Jesus by the Holy Spirit will help you to know Him the way He knows Him. This is His desire, that you should know His God as your God, His Father as your Father. Remember that ultimately Jesus is the only theologian for according to His own words in Matthew Chapter 11, “No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” Let Jesus be your teacher by the Spirit and bring you into the rest of soul that He, God’s Son, knew in the Father’s love and will. He says, “Learn of me.” It would be good just to listen to Him. That is more important than reading this blog!!
Perhaps I am speaking to a believer who has experienced a form of Christianity that seems to be so “word” dominated that the place of feelings, knowing something with emotional and “feeling”certainty is an idea that you hear with suspicion and might even try and convince others against. Effectively you have maybe become a student of a lecturer in your relationship with God, or a lecturer of students in your thinking about your ministry. I want to lift the weight of condemnation and cynical comments off of your hunger and longing to know the felt love of your Heavenly Father. Tell Him of that hunger! You are not psychologically wanting, you are not weak in faith, you are not a doubter of God’s Word. You truly are a child wanting to be embraced. May you always be so and may that need be satisfied by your Heavenly Father himself by His Spirit.
God bless you, Child of God. Open your arms wide and hold your head high!