God Our Father & Adoption (1:2-5)
We often have a tendency to try to apply biblical metaphors backwards. We start with what we know and assume it is the “real” thing and then assume it is a bigger version of what we do know. So when we hear that God is our Father we make God a bigger version of what we know.
It would be more accurate to come at this metaphor (and most others) from the other direction. God is the epitome of what “father” is/should be. Our experience only gives us glimpses of the real thing. It is like a child playing with a toy castle. The toy castle has enough features to activate the young person’s imagination, but offers no protection from enemies or shelter from rain.
Application: In seeking to know God as Father, strive to give him the basic courtesy of getting to know Him for who He is. We consider it rude when someone says, “I know you. You are a teenager (Southerner, Yankee, of Christian, etc…).” When we force the experience of someone else (even our earthly fathers) on God, we dishonor him in a similar way.
- Resource: “Relating to God as Father” sermon
That We Should Be Holy (1:4)
What should we expect to be the primary result of our salvation? How we answer that question will determine whether we think Christianity “works” and how much we enjoy our Christian life. I would contend that many are disappointed (even angry) with God because they thought their salvation was “about” something other than what God said it was about. They feel like the Gospel was a bait and switch because they did not consider what God was saving them from.
God did not save us from unhappiness, a lack of purpose, a low self-image, fragmented relationships, physical pain, or financial hardship. God saved us from our sin and the eternal punishment our sin deserved. Therefore, the primary result of our salvation is holiness – the eradication of sin and sin’s effects from our actions, thoughts, emotions, and motives. If we miss this, we may well spend most of our time in prayer distracting ourselves from what God most wants to do in our lives.
Application: Our calling is to
find joy in what God is doing on our behalf. Unless we find joy in what God is doing on our behalf, we live in pride believing we know better than God what is in our best interest. However, as we cooperate with God’s goal of holiness we find that our life is marked by greater joy, purpose, confidence, relational harmony, grace adequate for our suffering, and contentment. The great challenge is to allow God to define the “abundant life” (John 10:10).
Lavished… In Wisdom
We can rest in the fact that neither the Bible nor God’s character contain contradictions, but they both contain some strong tensions. Consider the consecutive phrases in Ephesians 1:8 that God lavishes grace upon us but does so in all wisdom. We would find it quite hard to “lavishly love” and yet do so “with all wisdom.” Yet balance and harmony between virtues is the essence of holiness. The most amazing thing about God is not that he is great in every aspect, but that there is no friction between the aspects of His greatness.
Look at the following list of virtues. Circle the ones you consider personal strengths. Underline the ones you consider personal weaknesses. Try to identify where your weaknesses are exaggerations of or results from your strengths.
Love Personal Grace Good Patient Attentive Free Productive Beauty Joy Wise Order Peace Honest Just Power Influence Control Hope Efficient Respect Understanding Unity Rest Fun Affirming
From this examination, I would encourage two things. First, let it cause you to marvel afresh at the balanced holiness of God’s character. Second, let it give you a new way of thinking about pursuing holiness and how holiness can be expressed.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.