Now I am not myself a father but I had like 5 growing up so I know a little about them. What is a father to you? What does it mean to you when someone says they are a dad? According to Wikipedia, ‘a Father is the male parent of his and the mother's offspring.’ But being a father is more than siring, more than just procreating; being a father is about protecting, about providing, about being a role-model; being a father is about affirming identity, and loving your child. Not just a father, but as a parent it means loving your children.
God created us with a natural instinct to love our children unconditionally. I’ll give you an example of what I mean about unconditional, when I was about 24 I disappeared. I was living in Calgary and my parents were living in Kelowna and the life I was living exploded in my face, I won’t get into the details, but the result was I vanished from my family for 6 years. After the first few years things had settled down some, but I still didn’t contact them because I didn’t think they could ever forgive me for disappearing the way I did. I felt there were conditions for their love and I had broken those conditions. I didn’t think of it in these terms, but that was the thought process. It wasn’t until the wonderful woman whom I eventually married gave my head a shake that I called my parents and do you know what happened? My parents, mostly my mother; cried with relief and love. They had never given up on me. It was very much like the prodigal son.
A parent’s love for their children, a father’s love for the child he has sired is unconditional. But God has shown us an even deeper love a father can have. The unconditional love a father has for his adopted children. Now I’m not saying you would love adopted children more than your own. I’m saying that love is more than an emotion, it’s more than a biological imperative. God has taught us that love is a choice, a choice we are to make unconditionally, and as His adopted children He has chosen to unconditionally love us.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (If you are led by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, you are a child of God.) For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” (Abba is personal, it’s actually an Arabic word. Calling God Abba is like calling your father Dad. It is a personal connection, a connection of love. A connection of relationship.) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:12-17)
We who follow the Holy Spirit, we who ‘Choose Love’ are the adopted children of God. We are heirs, joint heirs with Christ. But by choosing love we also take up the cross of Christ. We accept that we may suffer in this life, but we will experience God’s glory in the next.
Choose Love. This is actually a pretty impressive statement Paul is making here. During the first century when this was written it had an even bigger impact, not just because of the revelation but also because of the sociological impact it had. According to the law of the time you could cast aside your children, you could cut them out of the inheritance even take your name away from them leaving them as orphans, as social pariahs. But, if you adopted someone, you had no right to cast them aside. When you adopted they became a permanent part of your life. You could discard your wife with a few words, you could banish those whom you sired with a declaration in court, but a child who was adopted could never be cast aside, their inheritance could never be taken away. This is what God did for us. He came and chose to give us a permanent life with Him, an undeniable inheritance.
God chose to love us unconditionally without restraint without borders or limits without second guessing without reservation. We can never be disowned, we can never be removed, we can never be cast aside, and we will always be God’s children for the rest of eternity. How does that feel? I’m not coming to you today with a deep message of warning or a condemnation about things we need to change. This is an affirmation a reminder that we need to praise and glorify our Lord and Savior who has shown us how to make the right choice and ‘Choose Love’.
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Makes sense right? If the world didn’t recognize Christ then they obviously were not going to understand who we are. Beloved, now we are children of God; (I love how John puts this, ‘Beloved’. Because we are not just called to ‘Choose Love’ for God, but to also ‘Choose Love’ each other unconditionally as well.) and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:1-3)
Our Father has adopted us into His family and shown us that He is love. He is love. He is love and His love is perfect unconditional love, He is the perfect adopter, the perfect God, the perfect Father, and we will never be worthy but we will always be loved by Him and for that we will always strive to please Him. We will never be disowned, we will never be removed from our place at His feet. We cannot lose our inheritance, nor our salvation because He loves us with His perfect unconditional love.
God will not remove our inheritance. God will not remove our salvation, or our place in His heavenly family; but just to be clear, we can refuse it. We can choose to squander our inheritance by turning away from God and choosing to reside in the world instead. Reminds me again of the prodigal son. But personally and you might agree or disagree with me here, I think you would be much happier to just ‘Choose Love’. And what is love? God is love, so when you ‘Choose Love’ you are choosing God. Choose love, choose God. Choose God, choose love.
God is the perfect father this and every Father’s Day. He protects us and watches over us: For You have been a protector for me, A strong tower from the enemy. (Psalm 61:3)
He is our provider, from the air we breathe to each and every blessing in our lives. He provides everything: The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:10)
God is an amazing role-model and gives us wisdom and advice when we ask Him: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
Beyond all of this God gives us a new identity, a new life to be lived with Him: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
In every way God is the perfect example of what a good father is. He has chosen us out of the world. Chosen to love us and make us His children. Following His example let us go out and chose to love others with the same unconditional love, even if we think they don’t deserve it. Choose to emulate God’s love and adopt a neighbor, or even a community here in Burton. By ‘Choosing Love’ we become a tangible manifestation of God's divine love to every single person our lives touch.