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! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
This is one of those passages that speaks of “the now and the not yet” – the wonder of what we experience in this present moment and the intense yearning for what will be, but isn’t yet.
Here and now, we experience the incredible gift of the Father’s love. “He has embraced us,” as Charles Spurgeon said. “Look! See!,” John says, “what kind of love the Father gives us.” It’s love that goes to the extent of adoption, putting his own name upon us and drawing us into his family. We have the rights and privileges of children, giving us a secure foundation and new identity. Plus, community.
Growing up, our family home gave tangible expression to what it meant for me to be part of the MacIntosh clan. We each had a room – a place to settle. There were times of joint activity and family games, but also piano practice, homework, and quiet time on our own. Meals around the table, with everyone gathered, were boisterous and noisy, times of belonging and connection. There’d be laughter, and sometimes squabbles, followed by discipline and fatherly instruction. Oh, yes, and of course nourishment, too, and great pleasure in eating (Mom was an amazing cook!).
Each of those elements yields parallels with my experience in God’s family, this community into which his love has drawn me. Being one of the children in the family is blessed indeed.
But the greatest gift goes beyond all that – it’s the relationship with the Father himself. All I could have expected was judgement and condemnation. Yet he has so loved me that he sent his Son to rescue and ransom and redeem. My slate is wiped clean. His just wrath has been satisfied through the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus. I am reconciled to the King. But not only reconciled – adopted! Can you believe it? I am called his own beloved son. The voice from heaven, spoken over Jesus at his baptism, is now spoken over me as I am embraced in Christ. Such is the love and acceptance of the Father. Oh, how his love is lavished over me.
Each and every one who has received this gift of the Father, through the Son, poured out by the Spirit, is in this place of amazing love. We are children of the King – “that is what we are!”
Oh, if I could only get my mind around this reality more firmly, more consistently. To live in it more fully. Moment by moment, to know the Father’s pleasure, walking with him, enjoying his presence. I catch sightings of it. I rejoice as I experience it. But I long for more.
And more is yet to come! When Jesus returns, we will see him. We will be like him. Transformed fully into his likeness. Now we only see dimly – as in a mirror darkly – but then the sighting will be crystal-clear, face to face. In that moment, we will fully understand. Then we will completely absorb his love. Right down to our depths, we will embrace it.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!”
O Father, how great is the love you have lavished on me. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for your embrace. By your Spirit, help me to grasp it more fully. In Jesus’ name.
Take a few quiet moments to just sit and embrace this reality: How great is the love the Father has lavished on you. Let your mind grasp hold of it. Let your heart absorb it. Return to it often this day.
Photo by Mohamed Awwam on Unsplash