The other day, I was feeding my son his 6am bottle and the thought struck me that parents do a great deal for children that the child is completely unaware of. In fact, children often overlook parents who are doing their job well, because their needs are met. Nevertheless, through the course of life, most sons will, at one point in time or another, begin to diverge from the rule and authority of their parents. More often than not, at one point or another, most sons will even openly reject the authority and wisdom of their parents in an effort to gain a level of autonomy.
*Where this kind of even is regrettable, the process of a child gaining independence from his/her parents is a positive life event. In fact, as a parent, one of my top priorities is to teach my son to not need me.
Having realized this, I was at first grieved at the though of having discipline issues with my son later in life, as well as, having him say hurtful things to me in his effort to find himself independent of me (again this part is not necessary, but if my kid is anything like me, we’re in for some long nights). But my grief was immediately overcome by thoughts of joy in the realization that this is exactly the process many believers take with their heavenly father.
If you were anything like me, you were taught to love the Lord from an early age, and that you could trust the Lord in any and all circumstances of life. Along with that, you were encouraged to follow the standards that were set before you by the scriptures, and taught that the church is the best possible place for you to express your love for the Lord, and spread your spiritual wings.
However if you are anything like, me, you will may also take pride in yourself, and rebel against what you know to be true. In fact, there may even be moments where you reject the church, the standards of your faith, and scream bitterly at your God because of how you perceive that He has wronged you.
In moments like these, It is important to note, that Christ does not love us less.
I have become more and more aware of this fact ever since my son was born. I have had to change the most serious of diapers (any diaper you have ever changed pales in comparisons to these), and I have had to rock a crying baby for hours upon hours while his stomach would rumble and groan. All the while, I never lost love for him.
Even when he becomes more mobile, and begins to grab everything in sight to put in his mouth, I will not love him less. Or when he begins to tell Krystle and me, “NO,” I will not love him less. And even when he steals my car and drives he and his fiends around town for less than 5 minutes only to be caught by his mother the instant he pulls back up to the house…I will not love him less.
Not even when he sits in my home and refuses to speak to me, will I love him less.
My love for Rutledge is not contingent on his willingness to follow my direction, nor is my God’s love for me contingent on the things I do.
He will never stop loving me, and I will never stop loving my son…I can make that statement, because He has shown me that it is possible.
It is a tragedy that sin is in our world, but the fact of the matter is, this world is broken by sin, and everything that we experience is corrupted by sin. However, I believe in three words that must be near to the heart of every believer, because everyone who has professed faith in Christ Jesus has experienced these words in their own way, their own time, and for their own sin. Even the apostle Peter experienced these words from the mouth of Jesus, only days after denying that he even knew the Lord.
Please read John 21:15-19
Reconciliation – is the process that we as humans engage when our thoughts and emotions are focused on the person of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us, rather than upon the judgment of any person’s sin. Truly He has shown us grace and mercy, and neither were earned, nor could they be earned. When believers in Jesus remember that we all have fallen short of the glory of God, and have been found guilty of disobeying the Lord God, we will more naturally engage in humble interaction with those who have been caught in sin. Jesus himself indicated that he was more interested in reconciliation than judgment when he met with Peter after his resurrection. He asked Peter three times if Peter loved him. Christ was displaying the Love that he expects from us.
Make Right the relationships that are corrupted by sin, and look with merciful eyes at those who, like you, have been found guilty of sin.
Redemption – At its core, redemption is the act of making valuable, something that has no real value. If I have a token at a carnival, and redeem it for a ride or a prize, I have taken a trinket of implied value, and exchanged it for a unit of intrinsic value. The same happens here with Peter. Peter had sinned at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion by denying that he knew the Son of God. By all human accounts, he was nothing more than a shell of a man who could never amount to anything, because he had dishonored the Lord at the most critical stage in Jesus’ ministry. However, Jesus saw Peter in a different way. He saw that Peter had a unique value that could only exist when viewed under the lenses of Restoration. By engaging Peter in this discussion, Jesus, imparts a vision and passion for Peter’s life. Jesus gave Peter a mission, and invested the Holy Spirit into Peter to ensure that such a vision could produce good fruit.
Speak Life into your relationships today, but acknowledging that when the Holy Spirit empowers us, we can achieve what the world sees as impossible.
Restoration – The final stage in Jesus’s discussion with Peter was to reinstate him to a place of service. This (in light of recent events) seems impossible to most, but it is the most important step in the process if we are to look like Jesus. Jesus took the time to reconcile with Peter, redeem him to value in the Kingdom, and Restore him to a place of service to the Most High God. Jesus had many followers, he could have used any one of them, but he chose Peter. He chose peter to champion the message of salvation to the lost, and to show grace and mercy to those who had denied the deity of Jesus (Acts 2). Peter would become useful to the Lord because the Lord reconciled with him, redeemed him, and restored him to a place of honor. In fact, Jesus restored Peter to the place he had been prior to his deception. Peter reassumed his service to Jesus as though he had never sinned, and that truly is the Amazing thing about Grace. We have been made whole again. Washed clean in the blood of the lamb.
Seek out someone who has asked for your forgiveness, and restore that relationship…as though there had never been a problem between you.
This year, I have a bunch of goals. I have a great desire to lose weight, make more money, spend less money, watch less TV, and engage my family more fully than I ever have before. But I only have one resolution.
I will read the Bible at least one time this year.
I have read the Bible before, but I have never decided to do it in one year, or to read it from cover to cover (Genesis to Revelation). I’ve known several people who have done this, and have raved about how valuable it has been in their lives. I have simply been convicted to make the Bible a larger element in my everyday life.
My goal in this resolution is to gain a greater understanding of the overarching theme of Jesus within the scripture. I want to see Jesus portrayed, and displayed within the pages of the scripture. I want to notice his subtle and profound guidance within the lives of the Israelites, as well as, the New Church. I want to be amazed at the thought that the hand that formed Adam was later nailed to a cross. I want to notice how steadfast the Lord is in spite of how shallow and fickle mankind is. I want to be struck again by the nature of the Lord God…
I ask you to pray for me.
Pray that I will understand the severity of sin, and the joy of salvation. Pray that I will come to understand the true nature of grace and mercy. Pray that the Lord will dwell near me, and that he will guide me with his steadfast hand. Pray that I will be encouraged to do the good work to which I have been called.