1 John 3:1 – What a Father

1 John 3:1 – What a Father

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1NIV

Father…

What images, thoughts, or feelings instantly come to mind when you read that single, powerful name?

For some of you, it may be a trustworthy, super-hero like figure whose strong hands held you when you cried and taught you to play football.

For some of you, it may be a mysterious, empty title…a looming, dark figure with no face whose presence was made loud by its absence from birthdays, holidays, and the victories of life.

For some of you, this is a dangerous name…a name filled with booming, angry voices, pain, and fear.

For some, this is a bitter title, symbolic of empty promises and unfulfilled longing. A figure, while present, who made you feel like nothing more than an uninteresting footnote in his life.

Depending on which father you had, the concept of being the “child of God”, a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father…may be difficult to understand. Even if you had the best of fathers, he wasn’t perfect, and for many of you, the idea of a father hasn’t been much of a positive experience in your life.

Yet John writes “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1A ESV [emphasis mine]).

To understand what he means, I think we need to head over to Jesus’ “Parable of the Prodigal Son” in Luke 15. Jesus is trying to help people understand just how incredible the love of God is for His people. So He tells the story of a man with two sons. One son is faithful and good and continues to help his wealthy father work the land. The other son essentially tells his father “you are dead to me” by taking his inheritance money from his father and running off to live the high life on the money. Naturally, the money runs out, and he finds himself starving to death, feeding pigs in the countryside just to survive. And suddenly he comes to a realization in Luke 15:17-19ESV, “How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'”

Already we’re getting a taste of what kind of man the father is. You see, there are a few problems first century hearers would have expected this young man to face on returning home. One is he was merely a second son. You only need one son to inherit the family estate, so there is no pressure on the father to accept the boy back, despite what he had done. Second, the son had insulted his father’s honor by demanding the inheritance before his father’s death, leaving the family work, and running off to spend the money on “frivolous” things (we can safely infer gambling, prostitution, and the like). It would have been expected the father would, at the very least, disown the son, and there would have been no surprise if the father had the son killed on sight to preserve his honor.

With all this, the son is still willing to go home and ask his father for work. That implies something the son knows about his father’s character: he is kind, he is merciful, he is loving, he is forgiving… The sons knows what his actions deserve, yet he still does not doubt his father will allow him back safely. Yet even then, the son underestimates his father. Not only does the father not demand the punishment due for his son’s behavior, instead “his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him… the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:20, 22-24ESV).

Not only does the father not demand the life of the son for the evil he has done…the father welcomes him with open arms, running to him to end the separation that much sooner. The father celebrates the son’s return, not even bringing up what happened in the past but living only in the joy of reunion. Despite everything, the son is cared for, loved, cherished, and welcomed…without restraint.

And that is the kind of Father our Heavenly Father is. When John writes we have been “showered” with love by God calling Himself our Father and we His children, that is the kind of loving relationship we can expect with God.

Not a distant, faceless, empty absence in the joys and sorrows of our lives.

Not an angry, judgmental, hurtful shadow looming from the darkness to “get us” when we mess up.

Not a disinterested, blessing-dispenser who’ll snatch us up when we die but otherwise has washed his hands of the intimate details of our lives.

This God…this Father cares about every detail because He cares about you. This God wants you back, despite how bad a mess you’ve made of your life. This God is walking with you into the challenges, celebrating the joys and victories, and looking forward to when you can look Him straight in the eyes as He says, “Well done.”

What great love, indeed.

  • How do you feel and think about your experience with earthly fatherhood?
  • Do you see yourself sometimes viewing God through the lens of how you have experienced fatherhood? How?
  • How would it change the way you view your life to see God as a “good Father”, not matter your personal experience with fatherhood?
  • Challenge for the Week: Spend some time reading passages where God calls Himself “Father” or us “Children”. Make a list of all the good things it means to be a “child of God”. Put the list where you can see it as you prepare for your day.
1 Corinthians 12:14-26 – More than Attendance

1 Corinthians 12:14-26 – More than Attendance

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-26ESV

Have you heard the claim the pinky toe has no purpose? If you haven’t, it was definitely something I’ve heard and never believed. I’ve stubbed my toe on the edge of a bed or bedside table enough times, trying to get to bed in the dark, to know stubbing the 5th piggy can really lay you out.

Well, it turns out, the pinky toe’s value has been proven in recent years! Apparently, loss of the pinky toe “can significantly inhibit a person’s ability to skip, run or walk” (Hoyt, 2017). In other words, that stumpy, sad-looking, finger-like appendage that may not even have a nail helped you balance when you learned to walk, made your childhood fun, and carries you through every early-morning run or evening olympic lift. Hard to believe something so small can be so important. If you lost your pinky toe tomorrow, if would take physical therapy to help you learn to walk without it.

As important as the pinky toe is to your body, you are just as important in your church! But the sad thing is…most of us never believe that. We view ourselves as mere “members” of the church, like we are members of a gym, showing up to get personal benefit but cutting it the moment the demands of life require a sacrifice somewhere. Or maybe, we dedicatedly show up year-after-year offering our presence and tithe, but never do more than consume the word of God in Bible study and worship.

But Christian…we are meant for so much more! In 1 Corinthians 12:14-26, Paul compares each believer to a part of the body, saying in verses 21 & 22 (ESV), “the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…” In other words, every part of the body of Christ is critical to the work God is doing on earth. There is more to your life in Christ than warming a pew at worship or a seat at Bible study! Worship and Bible study are merely the nutrients through which the Holy Spirit works to help you live out your critical role!

Now, I know it can be hard to find your place…and that first step out to do what you feel God is calling you to do can be intimidating. But that voice in your head saying, “Don’t do it…you’ll only fail because you don’t know what you’re doing” or “Don’t do it, you’ll make a fool of yourself and no one will ever respect you again”…that voice is a lie from Satan to hold you back from exactly who God made you to be. Indeed, you may fail. When Jesus went to His hometown to share the Gospel they tried to stone Him to death (John 10)! And He’s God! But that does not absolve us from obedience…stepping into God’s calling because He knows what He’s doing…even if we don’t.

If your gift is making food…make food for a church meal or for a hurting family you know! That is a gift as important as the gift of preaching when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

If your gift is knowing how to fix things, help keep the church fixed up or use your gifts to be the most trustworthy, Christ-centered repairman in town! That is a gift as important as teaching the Word when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

If your gift is compassion for the hurting…you know they are everywhere inside and outside our church. I bet they’re even in your office building or your restaurant or school. Love people as Christ does! That is a gift as important as singing praises when it comes to God’s call to bring His love to our world.

Brothers and sisters in Jesus…God has crafted you and called you to so much more than mere “attendance”. You are a warrior called to the front lines to fight for the King to save our kidnapped family members. Step forward with your gifts, knowing the God who shaped the universe works in and through you. Even failure isn’t failure in His hands.

  • Make a list of the things you’re good at. Now underline the things you are good at that you are also passionate about, enthusiastic for, make you excited, or give you energy.
  • Now from those you underlined, circle those you are already doing in your day-to-day life.
  • If you haven’t been seeing these as an avenue to bring God’s love to our world, why?
  • Challenge for the Week: Spend some serious time in prayer asking God to set you free from whatever is holding you back from using your gifts for Him, whether it’s fear of failure or self-doubt. Then ask God to show you how to use your gifts to His glory. When the opportunity arises…take it!

References

Hoyt, A. (2017, October 16). Surprise, your pinky toe does serve a purpose. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from https://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/parts/surprise-pinky-toe-does-serve-purpose.htm