It is always dangerous to separate what God puts together in His written Word and in the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. It is especially dangerous for those of us called to preach and teach to make that mistake as servants of God in the spoken Word.
In recent years there has thankfully been an emphasis in Renewal circles on the Father heart of God. This was much needed in countries like my own, Scotland, where people have often been brought up in the remnants of a spiritual culture that seemed to major on God as judge, and a harsh judge at that; a God who wears a frown rather than a smile of welcome and mercy.
However though we can never overstate the love of God in its scope or depth, we can misrepresent its implications. In the bible, in the life of Jesus, the declaration of the Father’s love was followed by choices made for the Father’s will in the wilderness.
When we truly receive the love of God, a desire to do His will is birthed within us along with the power so to choose. In the presentation of the gospel, the Good News that in Jesus we not only find the delight of God resting upon us but are also given a new nature that delights in doing God’s will, is sometimes obscured: one reality is presented at the expense of the other. So for example, the hyper-grace movement leaves out the requirement and joy of repentance and obedience, while Holiness movements and churches have often resulted in a legalism that like all Pharisaism hides the smile of God’s saving love and kind mercy behind a disapproving, judging frown of unapproachability.
The joy of Christ’s Baptism and His obedience in the wilderness go together. This is the true grace of God that comes to us through relationship with Him, through abiding in Him. It is also the way to true joy. Nothing can interrupt the joy of those who know they are loved by the Father and who live to do the Father’s will. This was the delight of Christ and He invites us into Him: “Come to me.” In Him we find a love that cannot be interrupted and a joy that nothing can keep from us. What is to stop any of us this day, whoever and whatever is part of our situation, from obeying the Father’s will, and finding therein our delight? Only our choice.
I have been thinking back today over those moments when I have met people who have moved me to tears with the sight of the beauty of Christ in their lives. One such person was the missionary, Dr. Helen Roseveare. I heard her speak at Kilcreggan House when I was 15 or 16. I cannot really remember what she said, but it was the beauty of the Lord Jesus shining from her face, that made me want to find a private spot in the grounds, simply to weep. Truest beauty has that effect. It was overwhelming to me. The way to that beauty somehow became crystal clear without anyone telling me; saying “Yes” to the Father’s will, whatever that meant. It was something to do with not negotiating a contract with Christ under out own terms, but surrendering everything to the will of God without a terms and conditions clause. I have never forgotten that moment.
I hope whoever you are, you are living in the full joy of Christ. Perhaps to do so you might need to restore a balance to what it means to be in Christ. You may need to stand with Him under the joyful proclamation at His baptism and hear these words being spoken over you: “You are my Son, my Daughter whom I love. You bring me great delight!” Alternatively, you may need to stand with Him in the lonely and costly choices of obedience in the desert, allowing Him to help you say His “Yes” to the Father’s will.
I believe this post is offering you the pathway to joy and freedom. For some it will be the joy of standing on the mountain top of spiritual experience lifting your eyes to the Father in clear uninterrupted skies. For others, it will be the joy of standing in the valley in the midst or in the aftermath of great battle, with your weapons held aloft, bruised and bloodied but with a warrior cry of “Freedom” emerging from the unassailable depths of your being.
May the unfettered joy of Christ, the Son and the Victor be yours this day and always.
God bless you, Child of God and More than a Conqueror