THE FATHER'S LOVE
After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
At the foundation of every true ministry call on a life is a divine encounter that releases the revelation of heaven and secures the heart in the strong love of God. As in Jesus’ life the Father often schedules this type of breakthrough to occur before any great kingdom achievement is realized; a most important preparatory measure as it ensures that the child understands a great reality of the Father’s heart: His love is not attached to performance. Before He preached a sermon, blessed a child or performed any mighty act, Jesus heard the voice of the Father over His life; He was touched by His pleasure and delight; He was rooted and grounded in love. Jesus would enter into His earthly ministry empowered by the voice of His Father, with nothing to prove—what joy and bliss!
Without the foundational truth of the Father’s love in place, the minister’s heart remains destined for destruction. Until Abba’s love is secured, the servant of the Lord will continue in his subconscious pursuit, tirelessly working that he might be noticed by God, not knowing that he already has the attention of Heaven by simple virtue of His true identity as a son. Let me tell you, this kind of labor is exhausting. It is brutally deceptive. It keeps you on the treadmill of performance, continually impressed by the mileage you’re racking up until at the end of your work you’re faced with the sad reality that you’re tired, sweaty and you really didn’t go anywhere! So goes the destiny for the slave who never embraces his identity as a favored son. When he does well, he’s preoccupied with what he could’ve done better and when he’s failed, he reasons again “perhaps I’ll return to my father’s house and he’ll take me in as one of his hired servants?” A slave doesn’t see a father; he only sees a taskmaster.
The truth of the Father’s love for us is consistently contested by the injustice and pain of our everyday experience in a broken world. Knowing this, God brilliantly wrote into Jesus’ life in the gospels subsequent encounters with His glorious love. At His transfiguration, towards the end of His ministry, that mighty voice again broke in, ‘this is my beloved Son!’ Again the Father announces His great affection for His only begotten. In the only two accounts in the gospels where we see the Father speaking directly to His Son, we find Him proudly and unashamedly declaring His love for Him. Even for Jesus the revelation of the Father’s love could not be limited to a one-time experience. The love of God must be imparted and secured by continual and numerous encounters that span the course of our history with Him.
A heart that is secure in the truth of the Father’s love is most feared by the hoards of hell, for it cannot be shaken, it does not fear and it has nothing to lose. Patterns of striving and performance, comparing our gifts to our neighbors, competing with the brother/sister next to us, and even the jealousy and the inner anger that accompanies get totally undercut when we learn to live under the great waterfall of God’s heavy love for us. When we repent of these slave-like behaviors and return to the simple truth of the Father’s heart, we are closer to the kingdom than ever before. As the case for Jesus, intimacy with the Father becomes the cornerstone and method of our ministry, “I only do what I see the Father doing” and even in our most desperate and pressing state intimacy with the Father anchors us to the path of righteousness, “Father, let this cup pass from me…nevertheless, not my will but yours be done!”
Have you heard the Father’s voice speak tenderly to your heart of His great love for you? Have you allowed that truth to take root in your mind and reform the way you think? Have you asked the Holy Spirit to take that truth and build your entire life around it?
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”