Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope you had a great Christmas with family or friends. We celebrated quite merry at the Hanson house. The home was filled with the sounds of family – a heritage of little children, sons, daughters, dads and moms, and grandpas and grandmas. Life is good! Family is a wonderful blessing and gift from God.
What does it mean to be the family of God with a culture of grace? I have been addressing John’s letter to the church in regards to children, fathers, and sons in community of God. When we read the entire book of first John we will discover that the theme is the love of God and how His love is made known by our love for one another. Love is not a pretended action. It is the substance and character of our family. We love each other. What is it that makes that happen? How do we become the family of God where our character is a character of love? What does that look like in everyday life? It is not something we do in a place we call the church. It is the substance of who we are as the church. We are dads, moms, brother, sisters, businessmen, teachers, farmers, inventors, government officials, and people in an everyday world with a diversity of everyday lives. We are human beings like all other human beings, but we are taking on the character of what human beings should look like. That character is an expression of of our Father in heaven. Sometimes we think that to have the character of Christ we have to quit having aspirations for success in the world. We get this idea that Christ came into our lives so we can just have a nice time until we go to heaven. I believe that God came to redeem our purpose as human beings. He didn’t just come so we would have a relationship with Him and go to heaven when we die. The blessing of the righteous even enables an environment for increased blessings in the everyday things of life. I enjoy the fact that I drove my truck to get to where I needed to go this past week. It was faster and warmer than walking. It smelled better than a horse. I think it is an advancement of something positive in the earth. I don’t think it is an invention of the devil. I believe we can have the character of God’s family in the midst of being progressive in our abilities as humanity. Having tangible blessings and riches is not a problem as long as those things do not have us.
In first John chapter two John addressed three categories of people in the family of God. Little children, fathers, and sons. He said that little children know their sins are forgiven and little children know their father. We should always be like little children in our hearts. Not little children in the sense of never growing up, but little children in our expectancy, willingness, and our eagerness for life. We should be like little children in our innocence and our curiosity. My grandchildren always want to do what I do. They are willing. They want to know. My grandson thinks he is as old as I am. We should always have an attitude of a little child. When we wake in the morning our attitude should confess that we have a Father who loves us and our sins are forgiven. We are not trying to see how many sins we can do; we just know that when we make a mistake it doesn’t change our Father’s love for us. There is always this atmosphere. I am a child of God and I have a Father who loves me. We should always have that characteristic of being little children.
I went hunting again this year, because I like to hunt. Some of you don’t like to hunt, but I do and God likes me. He knows I like to hunt. I am like a little child in the woods when I hunt. What about you in your everyday life? Do you have the attitude of a little child? You are going to make some decisions that could be risky but you have a Father who loves you and your sins are forgiven. You are not going to try to sin today. You will make every effort in your heart to look for love in the right place to receive direction from God in your heart but you might make a mistake, you are not going to purposely try to make a mistake, but you might make one. If you do it is ok. You are a child of God and your Father loves you. That doesn’t give you an excuse to sin, but rather inspire you to try to not do any sins at all. But you know your day begins with knowing that you have a Father who loves you.
When Jesus was about to inherit His Father’s business, He had concluded that His Father was God and not Joseph the carpenter. He was at the age of 30 where a Jewish man could go into partnership with his dad and become a living inheritor in the family business. Jesus didn’t go to Joseph to inherit the carpenter business; He went to God His Father to receive His part as a living partner in the inheritance of the nations. This was His purpose when He went to John to be baptized in the river Jordan. He was about to face serious business, risky business, business that would ultimately cost Him His life. It was business that would require Him to walk in the power to cast out devils and heal the sick. It was a business that would require Him to do miracles. As He was baptized in the river Jordan by John He heard the voice of God. Everyone around Him heard it. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. This is my Son; I really love Him. This is my Son; I am very pleased with Him. When Jesus was about to face His journey of the Father’s inheritance, bringing life to the nations, He had to hear the sound from Heaven that confirmed He was a child of God and He had a Father who loved Him. We don’t know if He had done any miracles prior to this. The Bible doesn’t say. His mother Mary knew He could do things when they were at the wedding and the wine had run out, so perhaps He had done some things before. In any case, the foundation for Jesus being secure in His identity was not one of knowing His gifting, but of knowing who His Father was. It was knowing that He was loved.
A culture of grace begins with knowing who we are. For us to know who we are we must receive a judgment that frees us from who we used to be. We used to be people who were independent and disconnected from God, but now we know that God is our Father and we are His children for His glory in this life. Mercy has ended our old life and grace is empowering who we are in Him.
Ted J. Hanson