May 18, 2016
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 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! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
How do you see God? Through what primary lens do you visualize or imagine God?
1. Sovereign King
2. Righteous Judge
3. Loving Father
All three are correct, and there are certainly more we could add, but these are the big three. They correspond with three primary lenses through which we see ourselves at our worst:
1. Insignificant Serf
2. Convicted Criminal
3. Estranged Child
The Gospel of Jesus Christ gives us the fullest revelation of who God is and what God is like and thereby changes the way we see ourselves. Because of Jesus we can now become a:
1. Valued Subject
2. Pardoned Sinner
3. Beloved Son or Daughter
Back to the question at hand, what is the primary way you see God? Nothing could be more central to life than this answer. It literally determines your everything else.
I want to suggest that the primary lens through which a Christian sees God is as a Loving Father. Yes, a follower of Jesus understands God is the Sovereign King. Yes, a follower of Jesus understands God is the Righteous Judge. But the Gospel coheres in the fact that this Sovereign King and Righteous Judge just so happens to be your Loving Father. And this changes everything.
The big problem we have with this is the fallenness of our own fathers (and mothers). Because of their failures (to a greater or lesser degree) we struggle to believe in the core essential loving goodness of God as Father. No matter how well our parents parented us or how well we parent our own children, we will fall short in one way or another. Despite our shortcomings, we still want good for our children.
Jesus preaches good news to us in this passage by saying that God, as our Father, is better than our best imaginings or ideals of what a perfect Father could be multiplied by a factor of 10,000.
It’s much easier for a person to assent to the truth of the Gospel’s claims than to truly believe this Good News in their deepest self.
For “if you, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven,” who is pure, unmixed, essential goodness, “give good things to them that ask him” or (as he expresses it on another occasion), “give the Holy Ghost to them that ask him?” In him are included all good things; all wisdom, peace, joy, love; the whole treasures of holiness and happiness; all that God has prepared for them that love him. p.217
It’s why I think discipleship ultimately comes down to the ongoing work of believing this and ordering all of our life around it. It’s why the word salvation means healing. What most needs healing in us is our image of God. It’s the hardest best work we ever do.
1. So how have you primarily imaged God in your past? King, Judge, Father, other?
2. What makes it hard for you to relate to God as an intimate Father?
3. How might unforgiveness of an earthly parent be keeping you from embracing God as a loving parent?
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.