(from Sunday, 6/16/19)
We talked about what characteristics and traits a good father would have. I realize that not all fathers represent God the Father well, but that most show some of his perfect traits, even if imperfectly. We went around and everyone shared something that they thought a good father would do, or be. Even if we have had an absent father or a father that has mistreated us, I believe most of us understand what a good father looks like. It was good to reflect on this. It begins to paint a picture for us of who God is as our Father.
We read Psalm 139:13-15, where David sings about God’s care in forming us, molding us, shaping us. The intimate, invested care of our Father.
I then read Matthew 1:1, which introduces the physical lineage of Jesus, son of David, son of Abraham. There is promise in this; the seed promised to Abraham, and the royal line that Jesus came through. There is both a physical bloodline and a spiritual bloodline here.
Then I read through John 8:21-59.
Here John records Jesus talking to the religious of his time.
Jesus is never anything but sincere and honest. He only speaks the truth for it is who he is. What he says is not meant to repel people but to reveal. It may be hard to see the grace in some of what Jesus speaks because it sounds harsh, but grace is ladled throughout his speech. I believe often we can get offended at a word and then miss the invitation that follows, the love woven throughout. The Truth sets people free, which means, that it is lies that hold them captive. When Jesus speaks, he reveals lies, which in turn offers the opportunity to be freed. Many that were there that day put much stock in their ancestry, Abraham being a father of fathers to them. But Jesus was saying essentially that the true marking of a son is the likeness of the father. Abraham spoke the truth and delighted at the coming of Jesus. Jesus spoke of the truth releasing more freedom into their lives and they were offended, that he would imply that they were anything but free. How dare Jesus! This is where those who got offended got stuck and revealed whom they were like and thus who their father was. Jesus emphasized the divine lineage, which most importantly states that, no matter your physical ancestry, or physical bloodlines, that does not dictate who you are. Jesus was saying, in invitation, “if the Son sets you free from sin, then become a true son and be unquestionably free!” [John 8:36] Even in his blunt words, he was inviting them into better, into heavenly lineage.
Jesus dismantles the fantasies that just because your ancestor is righteous and of faith, that doesn’t mean you are. Who is our likeness truly of? That becomes the honest assessment, and it is in the honest, humble space that we can receive Jesus’ invitation to come, even if it’s to come to him more, to receive more freedom. Jesus’ entire ministry on earth was an invitation to know him and His (Our) Father who He is one with. He did not come to judge man, though he had the right to, he came to invite. He came not to condemn but to convict, calling all into repentance and thus calling all into him.
I then read from Matthew 6, where Jesus teaches us to pray. Before the ever so famous prayer that begins with, “Our Father….”, Jesus over and over again equates His Father to Our Father. Read before the prayer and see. “Since you are children of a perfect Father in heaven…. your heavenly Father…with Father God…your Father, “etc… Jesus makes the point that he calls, declares and invites us into his family. What keeps us from closeness with God, from receiving the invitation to be a son or a daughter, is a thin veil of lies, painted to look like an iron wall. The stuff that we really must wade through is the pride and belief that we are faultless. God is perfect and we must be perfect to be one with Him and we cannot be perfect without Him. Simply put, it is He that makes us perfect.
Simply, humbly, hungry walk into Him. God is calling us into him, deeper, closer, more intimately joined to him, openhearted and vulnerable. This is the Gospel; Jesus is the Way, tearing in two the curtain that has been a barrier to us all, keeping us at a distance from God. Jesus has made a way for us to be part of his royal, eternal bloodline. The invitation from Jesus is for us to come and be a part of his family. To be called son, daughter, brother, beloved. He calls the orphans and widows, the abandoned and deserted, the broken and outcast. He calls the ones that nobody wants and says that they are/you are beautiful, desired, and welcome. He calls the weak and promises strength. He calls the humble and promises power and authority. He sets a place at his table and earnestly awaits your arrival. He sets a feast upon that table and calls us all to get our fill. This has always been God’s intention toward us, for us to be one with him and dwell in his house. It is man that erects barriers. We don’t need to chip through the walls that God has created to reach him, they don’t exist. We need to dismantle the lies that hold us captive, and in humility walk out of the forest of shame and personal issues to get to God. God is not far off but he is near. God does not shelter himself from us but invites us to be within his shelter. God is literally at your elbow this instant, waiting for you.