Hi everyone, Rob here. I was speaking on 1 John in the weekend and this verse in particular stood out: “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 3:1).” How good is that??!! My suspicion is that if we really took this message to heart then we would have a much greater understanding of what “life in all its fullness (John 10:10)” actually means!
We are children of God, lavished in love by a good Father. That is what we are right now! Not ‘after Jesus returns’; not ‘after some rough edges have been knocked off’; not ‘when you go to heaven.’ Right here and right now you are an extravagantly loved child of God. One way to measure how much you’ve taken this message to heart is to ask yourself, “how lavishly do I love others?” If you’ve let the lavish love of the Father inside then it will overflow. But if you’re struggling to accept that love then it will never get out. It is the love of the Father in us that helps us to love our neighbour. As John says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).” He adds, “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:11).”
The evidence of my life shows that I am still some way off fully accepting this message of God’s lavish love on a day to day basis, but I am also further along the road than I once was. One of the traps we can get into is seeing our lack of love in certain areas and feeling guilty about it. We cannot grow in the Father’s love when we’re drowning in guilt! We try and hide from the Father when we’re feeling guilty – didn’t you when you were a child? God is not a petty tyrant or a Pharisee hiding in the grainfields waiting to see who’ll break the Sabbath laws. He is a Father who loves his children lavishly. He is Jesus calling the little ones to come to him, feeding the 5000 because he cares about their hunger and turning water into wine (903 bottles worth!) so the party could continue. He is the Spirit being poured out on us; an image that speaks of extravagance – wonderful, inefficient, wasteful generosity! He gives us himself in abundance. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of Life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).” Die to the guilt! Come alive to the lavish love of the Father that we can access through Christ!
Too many of us heap guilt upon ourselves because of the reality of our sin. When we confess our sins we start to believe that we really are just no-good sinners. Here’s the good news. Sin is not who we really are! We are children of God. So next time you go to confess your sin and shortcoming I suggest you start with who God really is and who you really are. God is love and you are lavishly loved by him as his child. Once you feel secure in that love go ahead and confess your sins. Let the freedom of God’s forgiveness and restoration be poured into you. Let the lavishness of his love soak into your heart. Then follow Jesus into the world and love others in His name with the lavish, extravagant, unconditional, outrageous love of the Father!