Our year-end letter serves as an opportunity to share with each of you some treasured thoughts we have stewarded in this last year. This letter, as it unfolds, expresses something of a personal invitation, a call to join us in discovering Christ’s friendship with God as Father and our active participation in this relational Kingdom. It is sure to be exciting!
Darrell Scott, a dear friend of mine, often says: “The Kingdom of God was purposely hidden in the last place we are prone to look for it…within us!” When we turn to the Source within and discover “that” for which we have been seeking, we engage something that defines our true identity. That source, we are proposing, is Father
When this idea began to take hold of me effectively, I started thinking, “What actual driving force allowed Jesus to remain faithful, embracing all of life including betrayals, failures, and physical demand beyond description?” The answer struck me like a bolt of lightning: His sole intent was to please God as His Father! (Heb. 5:5-10) My human spirit, my soul, and my physical person seemed to leap up in agreement.
Listen, as Father speaks: “After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on Him. And behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased'” (Matthew 3:16-17). Allow me to draw your attention to the fact that there has been no “ministry” accomplished yet!
Almost immediately, after embracing Father’s approbation, Christ reveals how this impacts our personal transformation. In Mt. 6:10, Jesus describes the goal as “seeking Father’s will, pleasure and desire in the earth to the same degree and in the same manner that it is being done in Heaven.” Pleasing God, as a Father, becomes Jesus’ personal instruction. Here we have a Son honoring His Father and a Father honoring His Son.
On this relational basis, I would like to suggest an application that has the capacity to reveal a motive with sufficient strength for all of life. Listen, as Jesus says something to us that seems so far reaching that at times we react with incredulity and even an aspect of unbelief: “For the Father Himself gives His Love to you because you have given your love to me and have had faith that I have come from God” (John 16:27). Oh, how beautiful to know that Jesus understands and imparts to us something of such great value and importance. It is Father’s love and approbation that prepares us for the often unrealized offer of His friendship!
Amazingly, John 5:20, in the original text, says: The Father and the Son are actually friends! Then, to our surprise, Jesus speaks of making us his friends, so He could tell us all that Father had committed to Him. Identity is restored redemptively, and now friendship is being offered. Let’s quote the words of Jesus in His offer of friendship: “You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do. I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out). But I have called you My friends because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.” [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him] (John 15:14-15).
Allow the implications of what Jesus is saying to break upon you. In friendship Jesus explains: I will instruct you to not only hear the Father but also respond to Him in a manner similar to the way in which He has taught me. I do not do anything but what I can see the Father doing. If you would like to live like that as well, Come on, Follow Me!
APPROACHING THIS SAME THEME FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19).
1. The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been defined as God’s own Sweet Society. This invitation of friendship allows us to enter that society as welcome participants. Paul uses the term “co-heir” to convey what is expected on our part.
2. Christ Jesus explains His own job description as taking us to the Father. He is careful to explain that no one else can accomplish this particular mission. No one can take you to the Father unless they have come from the Father!
3. He seems to imply: If you really understand the redemptive act, you will understand more clearly that God, Himself, wants to be with you. Jesus is THE WAY and not the goal! He who pleases God as a Father seeks to transform us into that same kind of human being.
4. Water baptism, by Jesus’ example, speaks of giving the Father our unqualified permission to transform, adjust, and bring us to Himself. All of this is based on the Kingdom principle of death and resurrection.
5. Father transforms us into the same image of His Pattern Son in order for us to be with Him and He with us. Father seeks to know you and for you to know Him. “This is Eternal Life: to know God and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).
6. If we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him. If we deny Him with our life and actions and neglect learning how to please Him, we are the ones missing the mark (2 Tim. 2:12). If we follow this same passage through to verse 19, there emerges a most intimate statement that is wholly relational: “The Lord knows those who are His.” This is not doctrinal, not redemptive, and not an exclusivity statement. It is simply an attempt to say something like: “The Lord knows those who are seeking to please Him as a Father in actual life situations. He responds to them in kind. Our desire and intentionality to please Him are recognized.”
Judith and I have seen, in the progression of our own journey, the necessity of our following and abiding. As His friends and friends of the Father, He is requesting our faithfulness in the mysterious events of life. Christ Jesus “learned (was mentored) by the things that He suffered”. His affirmation of Father’s own love and the immediate presence of His friendship impart to us strength and intentionality. He extends an invitation to live daily in the Sweet Society.
We are filled with gratitude for the opportunity to explore the great depths of this Sweet Society with you. Continuing to develop the Kingdom Value System content and answering the relational call of Father, Son, and Spirit in increasing maturity is what we anticipate for 2020 and beyond. Please seriously consider a year-end gift to Lifechangers or becoming a regular supporting co-worker.
In His Agape,