Today I am in Wichita, Kansas. I was blessed to participate with the Christmas play put on by the children and youth of Christ Life Ministries. It was a great time. It is wonderful to see the community of Christ be a community of life, love, and everyday connection.
Family is a wonderful thing. When I come home after a time out in travel I always look to spend time with my grandchildren. They are part of my family and I love them. We always do something fun so that each of my grandchildren know that they are loved by me. They are grandchildren of mine and they have a grandfather who loves them! This is the sound of love in our family. I want my grandchildren to know that they are free and loved. They are special and I want them to know that they are each a one and only one who is loved by me. This is the way it is with God and us. Knowing we are loved by God is the entrance to living in a culture of grace.
In the kingdoms of the world we live by the standards of the knowledge of good and evil, but everyone has a personal perspective as to what is good and what is evil. We are bound by our own perceptions even when we are given a book that is inspired by God that tells us exactly what is good and what is evil. We can read that book and we can come to different conclusions as to what that book says. Ten of us could read the same story and come up with different conclusions based upon the knowledge of good and the knowledge of evil as to what that story reveals. There would be a measure of truth in each of our perceptions, but none of us may have the fullness of God’s life-giving truth. The beliefs of our hearts and the perceptions in our minds affect our ability to understand what we read or to hear what is truly being said. I have discovered that when someone says something to me, I hear what I hear. I have also discovered that when I say something to someone else, they hear what they hear. We just had an election in America and everyone heard what they heard. It was such a loud experience it even affected Europe and the world beyond. The perceptions of each person and each nation is controlled and restrained by the perceptions of their own hearts and minds. Information alone is not enough to transform the hearts and minds of men in a heavenly way. In the kingdoms of the world everything is based upon information. ‘Inform me’ is the petition of the world. It is really difficult to live a free life in a kingdom of information alone. Even the revolutionary connection of the social media is information and it lacks the power of God’s life-giving kingdom. When we are informed, informed, and informed again it is easy to embrace a ‘shame on you’, ‘shame on me’ perspective. I am right, you are wrong. You are wrong, I am right. Yes, there is a wrong and there is a right, but you can be right and dead in your heart. You can be wrong and dead and being dead is worse than being wrong. Being right is no better than being wrong if you are dead in your heart and your mind. This is the way of the kingdoms that are bound to the knowledge of good and the knowledge of evil. It is a family tree that guarantees a testimony of death, even when we think we are smart. The foundation for the family of God is not information. The foundation for the family of God is life. He made me come alive! It begins with this testimony. When we lose our old lives, we actually find them new in Christ. When we lay our old lives down, we are finally able to pick up the life that God intended us to have.
1 John 2:12a, 13b I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. …I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
I have a father who loves me. I am a child of God. I am a child of God. I have a Father who loves me. That is where we begin. John set the foundation of a culture of grace by addressing little children. He set the purpose of grace by addressing the fathers. Unless we have a revelation of His love for us we cannot grow to become someone who shows His love to others. Children are loved, while fathers give love.
1 John 2:13a, 14a I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning… I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
Do you see how simple that is? To the fathers he said less than he did to the children. I believe a true father is not someone who is battling to know something, but someone who has finally figured out that the only thing that counts is Him. Our goal as a family of God should be to know Him intimately. To know Him in such a deep and strong relationship that nothing shakes us – nothing turns us away from being fathers. If you are a father and mother, when you had children did your world change? When you had children, your world changed completely! It was never again the same. Date night changed. Sleeping patterns changed. For those of you who don’t have children you don’t know this yet. Becoming a parent is like magic, but also like a curse if you are stuck on living for yourself. For the self-seeking part of our hearts it leaves us saying, ‘What happened to my life?’ ‘Where did my life go?’ When you discover the miracle of being a parent you discover that your new live is wonderful! To be a father means your purpose is for someone else. To be a parent, a father or a mother, is a wonderful thing. This should not just be true in the natural, but also a truth of the spirit. John was addressing a dynamic in our family that is one of being fathers and mothers. Parents realize that their whole world has changed. No longer are they thinking about themselves first. They are thinking about the next generation all the time. They are thinking about their children and eventually their children’s children. This is the way it is in the family of God.
God wants us to come to the place of destiny. He wants us to understand that we are not just children who know He loves us, but we live for the purpose of the kingdom of God. We live with the purpose of the good news. In the centuries of the church, the good news got twisted so the message changed. ‘Do this, do that, do this, and if you do this you will go to heaven when you die. If you do this, you will go to hell when you die.’ The message became one of what you do for a good or bad result, but the message of the kingdom of God is not about what to do. It is about who we are. It is about who He is. It is about who we are with Him as the family of God in the earth. It is about being a blessing and then knowing that God is blessing us to be that blessing. It is about multiplying; a giving of greater value to others. It is about seeing things change in the world. When we understand the message of the kingdom we have an expectation that it will be better for our children and our children’s children. We have an expectation of the world being blessed because of the increasing influence of God’s kingdom life and authority.
Ted J. Hanson