Children of God – 14 October 2022
By Ewald Schmidt
What does it mean to believe in God? We have seen so many bad examples of people getting hurt in their experience of religion. For some reason, they have made an image of God as a cruel figure, somewhere far away, who watches us from a distance. Their expectation is that this god figure cannot wait to punish them and judge them to eternal hell. People who have this vision of God fear him. They are afraid that he will crack his whip and spoil all their fun in life.
Where does this unhealthy fear of God come from? Floyd McClung proposed a very interesting theory in his book, The Father heart of God. From his experience as a missionary in the red light district of Amsterdam, he has worked with many broken people like drug addicts and prostitutes. From thousands of counselling sessions, he discovered that people have the tendency to see God in the same way as they experienced their human father. If their father was absent, it is hard to believe that God is present in my life. If their father was abusive, it is hard to trust in a loving God. When the role model that God has intended to show us his love, drops us, it is difficult to trust God as a good Father in my life.
When the Holy Spirit steps in, he restores our experience of the character of God. We learn about his love, his grace, and his desire to restore and heal our broken lives. We do not need to be afraid of him. When we get to know him, he is not the distant celestial figure of our nightmares. Paul says something amazing. People, in his lifetime, were very afraid of their gods, even too afraid to speak their names. Paul says that when we get to know God, we get to call him Father. The word he uses is “Abba” – the word any Greek-speaking child would call his father. This is a word of close relationship, a name that implies security and a sense of belonging.
The apostle John, years later, took this a step further in 1 John 4:16-19: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
This is our Father – he loves us deeply. He has loved us first, therefore, we can live in relationship with him, without any fear.
Prayer: Lord, thank you that you are my Father in heaven. Thank you that I may be your child. Thank you that I am always welcome in your presence. Thank you for your care and your goodness that I enjoy every day. Amen