The Love of the Father
To know the love of the Father (God) is to know true life. Put differently, to really know you are loved by God, not just in your head, but deep in the recess of your heart, changes everything. It shifts something chasmic inside, unlocking this new identity that no one can take away. It elicits a response, as A.W Tozer describes in his book “Knowledge of The Holy,” that leaves us in speechless gratitude and worship.
Consider the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. Many of you may be familiar with this story, the one where the father has two sons, and the younger decides to cash in his inheritance early and live the life that many only dream of — for a season. The story says as he squandered his resources, a severe famine hit that catapulted him into a life of great need, to a place where even the pigs of the field had it better. As the young man contemplated his future, in shame, he decides to return to his home in pursuit of an opportunity as a hired hand in his Father’s house, going as far as to describe himself as “no longer worthy of being called your son.”
The story says that while he (the son) was “still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (v.20) As the son tries to apologize and give his rehearsed speech, the father is already busy commanding his servants to bring the best robes, the best ring, the best shoes, and the best-fattened calf. Why? Because a party was about to ensue, as Scripture tells us, “For this, my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (v.24)
But we can’t forget about the other son, who, as he came in from a day in the field, noticed the celebration and when told the reasoning, refused to partake. How could the father throw such a party for his brother? Especially when he (older son) had been a faithful servant all his years and never received as much as a young goat to celebrate with his friends. As bitterness and anger boiled up, the father says to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother was dead, and is alive: he was lost, and is found.” (v.32)
I love this parable because no matter which son’s story you look at, the love of their father towards them reaffirms the same two things as the love of our Heavenly Father toward us; identity and position. I love that the story says while the first son was still a long way off, the father noticed him. To me, it communicates the Father was always looking, always waiting. Some of you reading this need to know you will never be too far away from the love of God for you to turn to Him and “come home.” There is nothing you have ever done or will ever do that will hinder Him from racing out of the house and meeting you on the road. His heart is for you, as is this new identity that comes from being called a son or daughter of God.
The love of their father towards them reaffirms the same two things as the love of our Heavenly Father toward us; identity and position.
Yet, I also love the beautiful reminder many of us need today that we can only find in the story of the second son. The Father listens to his heart as he communicates his frustrations, and in the kindest of spirits, reminds him of his identity by referring to him as “Son” (v.31). He reaffirms him of his position when he tells him, “you are always with me, and all that is mine, is yours.” (v.31) While some need to know for maybe the first time that the love of God is never too far from you, others need reminding of the identity you have been giving because of that love. As believers in relationship with Christ, the love of the Father has quite literally given us a new identity and placement in Christ. Romans 8:17 tells us as Children of God, that we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ!
The father in this story and our Father, God, has given the greatest gift a child (son) can receive; pure love. May we be a people more aware of our identity (loved by God) and of our position (heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ) and what that affords us. It gives us access to the Kingdom of God, to the storehouses of Heaven, and to a life of peace that only comes from the rest we can take in the loving arms of The Father.
To read part two of this series, click here.