Our Relationship with the Father
By Dwayne Moore
Happy Father’s Day from NLWI! To celebrate fathers, we are sharing this article by our founder, Dwayne Moore. This is an excerpt from his powerful study, Heaven’s Praise: Hearing God Say Well Done.
You’ve no doubt heard the old saying, “You are what you eat.” That may be true of our bodies, but when it comes to our minds, emotions, and spirits, we are what we think. And the most profound thoughts any human can have are thoughts about God. That is precisely why this study starts with an emphasis on thinking right. How we relate to God and how we believe he relates to us affects every facet of what we do and who we are. So we’d better get our thinking straight about God!
Let’s look at three distinct yet common stances Christians take regarding their relationship with God:
1.He’s the Boss; I’m the worker
2.He’s the Teacher; I’m the student
3.He’s the Father; I’m his child
Let’s assume for a moment we think of God primarily as our boss. What does a boss expect of his employees? He expects them to produce, perform, work hard, and show results for their labor. But a boss’s interest in workers is based on what they do, not who they are. Therefore, those who produce the most win the boss’ approval. Those who lag behind and don’t perform up to expectations are usually reprimanded or fired. In a business environment, a boss isn’t motivated to love the people who work for him or her, and the boss’s obligation toward those employees is limited.
I’m thankful that God’s not primarily a boss, aren’t you?
Now let’s try God as teacher. What does a teacher expect of students? A teacher wants students to apply themselves to getting good grades and high test scores. A teacher’s focus on students is limited by the classroom. While teachers often care deeply that students will be able to apply what they’re learning and use what they learn to improve their lives, they are required to spend their days helping students “make the grade.”
I’m very thankful that God is much more than a teacher, aren’t you?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I know there are many wonderful bosses and teachers who care deeply for the people they’re responsible for and go far beyond the call of duty to get involved with their lives. But that’s the point I want to make: Bosses and teachers who emulate Jesus have a unique quality about them that comes from another aspect of God—one which encompasses and supersedes all the others.
Please read 2 Corinthians 6:16-18. According to verse 18, what relationship does God long to have with us, his people?
The supreme revelation of God in the Bible is that he is first of all a Father and that he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. John 1:14 tells us: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Did you catch those last words? The Father is full of grace and truth. God’s love is unconditional. He wants us to be his children, so much so that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, to die in our stead. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a).
As our heavenly Father, God is our boss, whom we are to obey and follow. But unlike human bosses, our Father wants only what’s best for us. We don’t have to perform and work hard to make him accept us. He loves us just as we are. He is pleased with us simply because we are his children. And when we do wrong, he doesn’t get rid of us. Instead, he lovingly disciplines us to make us more like Jesus.
As our teacher, God the Father gently and patiently instructs us through the Holy Spirit. But God’s purpose in teaching us is not so we’ll ace some pop quiz. Rather, it’s so we’ll know how to live for his glory. And if we fail a test or if we’re not as bright and quick to catch on as others, it doesn’t mean we are less favored in God’s sight. Every one of God’s children is his favorite!
A relationship with a boss can be severed. As quickly as someone can hand you a termination slip, you are out the door, never to return. A relationship with a teacher can run its course and come to an end, and you may never see that teacher again. But a relationship with your Father—now that’s permanent; that’s forever.
Read Jesus’ powerful words, recorded in John 10:27-30, about our relationship with him and his Father. Then read them again. Let this phenomenal and freeing truth sink into your soul.
I am so incredibly thankful that the God of the Bible, the true and living God, is first and foremost my Father, aren’t you?
A Down-to-Earth Example
My father passed away when I was only ten years old, but I was old enough to have some very fond memories of him. My dad was far from perfect, mind you—I’m not even sure he was a Christian—but he loved me. Of that I never had a doubt. I can’t count how many times he let me fall asleep in his lap while his big arms wrapped around me and held me tight.
I remember the time I accidentally set off an entire pack of firecrackers inside our house! I had been playing with them in our living room just out of sight of my dad, who was watching TV and resting from a long day’s work. I will never forget seeing him jump out of his chair and spring to life at the sound of those obnoxiously loud firecrackers hopping wildly across our hardwood floor! He did his best to kick the fiery pack out the front door, but most of the miniature bombs had already exploded, leaving behind a room full of dark smoke and a mass of shredded paper and soot.
I still remember the look on his face when he turned to me. Boy, was he mad! At that moment, I saw my life flash before my eyes. And I was already imagining what choice words he might use on my tombstone! But instead, he slowly forced his body in the direction of his chair, sat down, and quietly looked toward the TV. I recall hurriedly cleaning up my mess and opening the front door wide to let out the smoke.
Then the most amazing thing happened. My dad motioned for me to once again climb into my most cherished and safe place. Instead of giving me the whipping I deserved, he simply held me again. He never said a word. I think he knew I’d learned my lesson and that what I really needed was to know he still loved and accepted me, despite my stupid and dangerous mistake!
When I think about how loving my earthly father was, I’m reminded of how much greater and more loving our heavenly Father is. Jesus said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
In the Beloved
Please read Luke 3:21-22. How much do you think God delighted in saying those words—and, for that matter, how much do you think Jesus delighted in hearing them?
Jesus lived thirty-three years—more than twelve thousand days—on this earth, yet he never sinned. He was truly the spotless, perfect Lamb of God. Not long before Jesus’ death and just after Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, the Father repeated words he spoke at Jesus’ baptism.“A bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ ” (Matthew 17:5, New King James Version).
With the Father’s words about his Son in mind, flip to Ephesians 1:1-6. Slowly savor Paul’s words describing who we are in Jesus. The King James Bible puts Ephesians 1:6 this way: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
Now let’s put this all together: How did the Father describe Jesus? He said Jesus is his beloved Son. And who are we “in,” according to Ephesians 1:6? So if Jesus is accepted by God, and we are hidden in Jesus, guess what? We, too, are accepted by God the Father! If we’ve trusted Jesus as Savior, there’s nothing more we can do to make ourselves more pleasing to or approved by our heavenly Father!
Before we can move forward in our study of heaven’s praise—before we can even hope to hear Jesus say “Well done” one day—we have to understand and embrace this overarching truth: God is, first of all, our heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally.
This article is from Heaven’s Praise: Hearing God Say Well Done by Dwayne Moore. Go here to order this 6-week Bible study.