What is your perception of God? If you had to describe your Creator, what would you say? For many who don’t know Him, God seems distant. They will say things like, “God, if you’re out there…” But we know that He isn’t far away. He hears our prayers, knows our thoughts, and cares about the smallest details of our lives. He’s a good, good Father, and we are His beloved children.
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I often wonder if we struggle to get past the God of the Old Testament. He seems to be quite angry… a lot. We read about judgment and wrath. We see His people suffering the consequences of their choices by being exiled, losing battles, and wandering in the desert for 40 years. This is a picture that many non-believers have of God. You have to love Him and obediently serve Him, or He will send you straight to hell.
Growing up, I had a similar image: To the Father, I was awful, unworthy of salvation, and destined to receive His wrath. I pictured the God of the Old Testament unleashing His anger. Then Jesus came and made things right between me and God, taking God’s wrath for me on the cross.
What’s wrong with this image you ask?
Well, for one thing, we have the following verse:
And [Jesus] is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. – Hebrews 1:3 (emphasis added)
I subconsciously envisioned the Father and the Son with two different personalities. I knew deep down that I was wrong to think this way, but for some reason, I couldn’t shake the image of an angry Old Testament Father and a loving New Testament Son. But the truth is that if we have seen the Son, we’ve seen the Father. The love and compassion Jesus showed is an exact representation of our loving and compassionate Father.
For God so loved the world…
The Father loves us deeply and unconditionally. If His love were conditional, the Bible would say “For God so loved the ones that accepted Jesus.” No. It says that He loves the world… the whole world… all mankind.
That’s why He wants to adopt all of us. Think about that for a minute. His desire is to adopt every single one of us as His own.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. – Ephesians 1:3-6
The Greek word used in this passage for “adoption as sons” was actually a legal term. In Roman culture, it referred to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir. The same Greek term is used in Romans 8.
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!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. – Romans 8:15-17
God’s purpose in saving us through the cross goes far beyond the forgiveness of sins. He wants to adopt us. And not just adopt us but make us legal heirs.
Through Jesus Christ, we inherit the earth, the kingdom, and eternal life. (Matthew 5:2-11)
And while God loves each and every one of us, we need to remember that the Bible tells us that God gave us all the right to become His children. (John 1:12) Jesus made a way for adoption to be possible, but we must be willing to be adopted… to surrender our lives to Him as His children.
As our good, good Father, God desires the very best for our lives.
He longs to have a deep and meaningful relationship with us. He doesn’t want to be distant, He desires to be close – the way the best of fathers would be with their children.
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*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.