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!” 1 John 3:1a, NIV
When the Bible calls us children of God, it speaks so clearly about how God loves us. Children do not need to do anything to be loved. Parents swoon over their babies’ smiles and dedicate photo albums to their babies’ first tooth. Children don’t need to be saints or have college degrees for their parents to love them. There are no prerequisites for this kind of love because it is not based on deed.
Luke 3:21-22 tells us about the baptism of Jesus. Jesus was 30 years old when John baptized him; Jesus was just about to start his ministry. Yet when he was baptized God’s voice was audibly heard from the heavens saying, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”
Jesus has not yet performed a single miracle at that time – no walking on water, no preaching to the multitudes – yet God was already pleased with him! God already called Jesus His beloved Son.
Being described as children of God idyllically paints an image of the security and unconditional love we have in God. Yet, while this is true and very comforting, there is another part of the title that we often overlook – the ‘of God’ part.
To be of something means to be a part or product thereof. Hence, when we were called children of God, it does not just mean that we can find a place of refuge in Him. It also means that we are part of God’s family. God expressed His extravagant love to us by sending Jesus, through whose blood we were counted worthy to be welcomed into His family.
It is through this lens of fatherly love that God relates to all of humanity – as a perfect father of the household who looks upon His children with affection and desires nothing but the best for them.
The Hand and Heart of God
We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the hands and heart of God are interchangeable.
A lot of people are offended because they do not understand the ways of God. In our lack of awareness we ask:
- If God is all-powerful then why is there sickness and suffering?
- Doesn’t God understand that this is important to me?
- Why doesn’t He answer my prayers?
- Why is He punishing me?
We whine and we kick; we see God’s actions (or lack thereof) and judge him at face value.
Let’s take the fall of Adam and Eve. When they sinned against God, He punished them by cursing them and their offspring and by driving them out of the Garden of Eden. God even sent a cherub to guard the garden so they wouldn’t be able to come back into the abundance of Eden. Didn’t that seem too much? They realized their mistake and felt sorry, didn’t they? Why did God have to kick them out – it was just one mistake!
If we stop there, we may be tempted to think that God was too harsh in His discipline. But if we look closer, God was actually guarding them. In the garden, there were two trees – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (the forbidden fruit of which Adam and Eve ate, causing the fall of men) and the tree of life (Genesis 2:8-9). The tree of life would give them everlasting life. When God forbade Adam to Eve to enter the garden after the fall, He actually intervened on their behalf to prevent them from eating of the tree of life; otherwise, they would have remained cursed forever.
In the same way, we may have experienced being frustrated or offended by God’s actions. We may have jumped to our conclusions about Him as a father to us. We may have felt doubts about His being tender and forgiving.
But, God, in the omnipotence of His ways will at all times have a good reason for His actions. We can trust that those reasons are for our own good- so much so that He calls Himself love.
In embracing this truth, we can stop calculating God’s deeds. We can avoid comparing ourselves to those who have been “more blessed” than we are. We can forego our self-righteousness that makes us think God prefers us over those we disapprove of. From there, the foundation of our trust and love for God would shift from His deeds to His very blameless nature. There is nothing bad or angry or spiteful about Him, and in that reassuring fact, we can find peace.
When we have that view of God, it is very hard to question and to take offense of His actions. The way His hands move no longer confounds us, and we end up finding ourselves witness and recipients to the perfect benevolence of His heart. It is there that we can find the confidence to say that it is His will to bless us.
excerpt from The Mark by Paul Yadao