Have I mentioned that I am an only child? I am also a Daddy’s girl.
After asking Christ into my life and learning that God’s Word was the manufacturer’s handbook for my newly created life, I began to understand the significance of being a child of God.
It has been said, “New Christians should be locked up for the first six months to contain their overwhelming enthusiasm until it can be tempered with understanding.”
All I can tell you for certain is: my Abba Father had a plan for my newly created life from day one and it has always been right. Although I will admit it has not always fallen in line with my “spoiled brat” attitude.
Perhaps the simplest way to describe God’s training program for his children is to compare it to the love of a parent for an only child. God describes it that way himself throughout his Word. Again and again God brings to our attention the parent—child relationship; the unconditional love, the forgiveness, the joy involved in it. Again and again God reminds me that because he is my Abba Father he will shower down upon me everything I need. It has been so forever. To this day I am certain that my Daddy loved me and would go to almost any lengths to protect me and give me the desires of my heart.
And, forever it seems, children, especially God’s children have been disobedient; unruly, rebellious brats. I have been one. Adam was one. Eve was another. In the books of Moses we see an entire nation acting like spoiled, tantrum throwing babies. Jonah told God, “No. I won’t do what you’re asking.” At one critical point, King David’s actions said, “I want it my way. I’ll do anything to have it my way.”
God’s reply seems forever to have been, “Alright. Have it your own way. I won’t stop loving you. You’ll still be my child—to David, a man after my own heart—but my child, Oh my child, there will be consequences.”
My Bible tells me that nothing can separate me from the love of God. I am assured He works, always and in everything, for my good. If I am Christ’s there is no more condemnation. And yet, there will be consequences.
An example might be to say, “Darling girl, if you put your hand on the stove’s hot surface you will be burned.” From experience we know such an action—regardless of whether it is intentional or accidental—will cause pain. Anyone would spare a child such pain if possible, offering information to impart knowledge, thereby eliminating the potential problem.
The prophet Hosea, inspired by the Spirit of God wrote these words:
“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” 4:16
Knowledge is an understanding of God’s wisdom. God’s wisdom is set forth through His Word. Our Heavenly Father gave us information, to impart knowledge, hopefully eliminating potential problems in life. And we, frequently, have behaved like spoiled rotten, rebellious brats!
A two-year-old is not held accountable for understanding all the social graces. For toddlers many actions that would be instantly repulsive coming from a sixteen-year-old are considered acceptable, even cute. Along the same line, the rebellious, wise-acre, attitude of an adolescent can be tolerated for a couple of years while he outgrows it. A twenty-five year old who is still hanging on to an “attitude” is most unpleasant to be around. It is natural for toddlers to grow into adolescents, and thank God, adolescents grow into adults.
Before D retired from teaching he had a sign hanging in his junior-high classroom: “Teenagers. Hassled by unreasonable parents? Leave home now and start supporting yourself while you still know everything.”
I have wondered if my heavenly Father sees the humor in it when I act like a brat?
Years ago, soon after we arrived in California, the Holy Spirit directed me to the first letter of Peter—there to find out what God was asking of me, as an obedient child.
For three long years I struggled with the entire letter. I read it. I re-read it. I cross referenced verses. I twisted and strained, searching, and praying, trying to fit myself into some mystical, magical formula. I tried and tried…to become more holy, more disciplined, more acceptable.
I got nowhere.
No matter how hard I worked at it…I got nowhere.
Then while preparing a series of studies for a small group of women in our church, the Spirit lead me back to the old same question.
“What does it mean for me to be an obedient child of God?”
What I had tried for three years to make so hard; so rigid and unyielding, was suddenly clear as glass and had been right there in front of my face all along. And it was SO simple!
“Don’t be enslaved to the emotions [passions, lusts, desires] of your former ignorance!” 1 Peter 1:14
“Oh! My Father! The emotions that ruled my former life—when I was ignorant of you—were horrible. Rage, fear, depression, jealousy, selfishness, carousing—I have been a slave to all of them—because they mastered my thinking. They controlled me. I could not control them!
“In Christ, I have been set free from them!
“As your Holy Spirit, through your Word, has grown in me and I have become more mature. Those old feelings have been replaced by love, peace and joy. And not by my own doing, but by your grace.”
“Be as much like Christ as you can.” 1 Peter 1:15
Of course! That’s what the term Christian really means…Christ-like.
As an obedient Son, Christ submitted his will to the Father. He looked to the Father for guidance and direction. He trusted the Father in all things.
“If you think of God as Father – act as though you are his child.” 1 Peter 1:17
My prayer became, “Oh Father, help me to be the daughter your love for me deserves. You have done so much for me…the very least I can do for you is trust you in all things.”
This seems an appropriate spot to share another simple, beautiful insight into our God’s way of doing things. Have you heard religious folks talk about being “washed in the blood of the lamb”? Peter speaks of this miracle in verse 19, too.
At one point we heard this explanation: In a herd of sheep, when a ewe give birth to a still-born lamb and another ewe dies giving birth it would seem logical to give the orphaned lamb to the lonely mother. The wise shepherd knows this is not a solution. She will not adopt the orphan since its smell is not right. It is not her own lamb and so she will reject it as a stranger. Both the lamb and the ewe will suffer. The orphan will probably die. So…wise in the ways of nature, the shepherd will wash the lamb’s wool with the dead lamb’s after-birth. The smell is now right. The ewe will now nurse and care for the lamb as her own.
In a similar manner, a pure and Holy God cannot accept me as his own. He is Spirit. I am flesh. But washed in the sacrificial blood of Jesus…I am adopted and cared for as his own dear child.
How perfectly simple! How tremendously intricate. How beautifully acceptable when explained so naturally.
Peter goes on:
“Love one another earnestly.” 1 Peter 1:22
Yes. Of course! And unconditionally—because only unconditional love says, “Jesus is real.
“Put away animosity and ill will, deceitfulness and insincerity, envy and slander.” 1 Peter 2:1
Love, the love of Christ, simply leaves NO room for these negatives in my life. His grace makes it possible for me to “take every thought captive” allowing me to grow up into a child who can bring honor to our Father.”
“Like a new born baby – demand milk.” 1 Peter 2:2
Because without the milk of the Word I will surely stave to death. It is another natural law…no food, no growth. The Bible says God’s Word is food for the Spirit. (Matthew 4:4)
“Allow me to build you into a dwelling place for My Spirit; for My love and My light – for the mind of Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-10
Yes Lord! Yes. Please make me into a vessel you can use; a child you can be proud of; a child who is not disobedient, unruly or rebellious. Once I have allowed you to do that, dealing with the painful consequences of my head-strong actions will be less and less frequent.
I think King David and Jonah must have come to the same conclusion. I’m certain Peter did because, after denying the Lord three times, he grew up into a dynamic power-house preacher who helped to turn the world on its ear for Christ.
I believe the whole thing is meant to be quite simple really. So why do we insist on making it so hard?