“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (John 3:1)
When John talks about the Father’s great love in making us His children, I imagine he spoke with amazement and enthusiasm. Perhaps he was shaking his head in disbelief. Maybe, as John stopped to write, he became choked up with tears to think about how deeply he is loved by God. I think these are words filled with emotion.
We need to reflect on this love and allow its reality to sink down into the depths of our being. This amazing love is meant to take our breath away when we think about the love God has for his children. It is a love in which God takes the initiative to make us his children … a love that gives lavishly and freely to those who are completely undeserving.
When we think of our sin and rebellion and contrast that with God who is holy, pure and perfect in every way then maybe we can just begin to sense something of John's wonder that God should ever love people like us so much the he sent Jesus to die for us in order to save us from sin and hell. John is amazed by this wonderful truth.
Don't take this for granted. Understand that he didn’t have to save us at all. He might have said, "They don't deserve saving, and that's that. And they certainly don’t deserve the life of My only Son."
Now, let me be clear, not everyone is a child of God. We hear people all the time talk about the fact that we are “all God’s Children.” That’s not true according to the Bible. We are all God’s creation. We are not all God’s children. The true child of God is the one who has placed their faith, confidence and trust in Jesus Christ. They are the ones who receive the gift of life that God offers.
What does it mean to be a child of God? Perhaps we can understand better by asking, what does it mean to be the child of a loving parent?
• It means being loved more deeply than you can grasp. Loving parents love their children so much that they can’t begin to put that love into words. A parent hurts with their child and rejoices with their child. Loving parents would much rather suffer themselves than watch their children suffer. Children don’t understand how much their parents love them until they have children of their own.
• It means being loved with a resilient love. A loving parent loves their child no matter what mistakes or foolish choices they make. This doesn’t mean the parent isn’t disappointed, angry, or hurt. It doesn’t mean that they don’t discipline their children or let them live with the consequences of bad choices. It does mean that no matter what happens they continue to love their child. God has this kind of enduring love. Earthly parents are often inconsistent, God is not.
• It means Provision. A loving parent will do whatever they can to help their child (that doesn’t mean giving them everything … sometimes the best help is to not give them everything so they can learn to take care of themselves.) Parents sacrifice to send their kids to college, to help them with financial difficulties and so much more. Many parents have re-mortgaged their homes to help their children in some crisis. God is the ultimate provider. He has promised to supply all our needs. He will not give us everything that we “want” but He will provide what we need . . . just like any good parent.
• It means an Inheritance. Whether you have money or not, parents do pass on some kind of inheritance to their kids. It may be old photos, a coin collection, a few shares of stock or even the family farm. God has given us an inheritance that we won’t even begin to appreciate until we get to Heaven.
• It means an inescapable imprint on our lives. Just as we hear the voice of our parents (good and bad) in our heads, so we also hear the whispers of God’s Spirit in our conscience. Just as we have certain personality traits/quirks that come from our parents (often to our horror!), so God places His character traits into us (fruit of the Spirit).
• It means security. There is a safety in the love of a good parent. You know you can always run to your parents when the bullies of life come your way.
We have been given an incredible privilege. Unfortunately, like many children, we often don’t appreciate what we have been given. At times, like a child we actually feel deprived and feel God hasn’t “given enough”. Enough? The love God has for His children is more than enough! In fact, He has “lavished” His love on us. When you lavish something upon someone you heap it on more and more. Lavished means repeated portions, again and again, and that is very important for us to realize. We need to start living in that truth! Like an ocean wave His love just keep coming and coming and coming.
Kyle Blanton, Pastor, Pee Dee Baptist Church