By This We Know Love
Grace Community Church
Feb. 18, 2018
The Lavish Love of the Father
Please turn with me to 1st John 2 as we continue to study the 1st letter of John. 1 John 2:28-3:3 (reading from the NIV)
We’re going to take these verses a little out of order and come back to verse 28-29 in a few minutes. There are two truths here that have a powerful effect on our lives.
God has lavished His love on us by making us His children
3 See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
I think this is one of those texts that are meant to be taken in emotionally. John means for us to feel it emotionally! John certainly does – this isn’t a clinical observation, this is an emotional outburst! John’s heart is overwhelmed by God’s lavish love!
I love the word lavish. It’s a big word, it means extravagantly generous. It’s the opposite of stingy. This past week I shared a devotional at Kingsway Academy on this verse, and I called up one of the students up, gave him a bucket and told him I was going lavish water into the bucket. I offered him a rain poncho and asked him if he knew how to swim. Then I pulled out an eyedropper and dropped a drop of water in the bucket. The kids knew that that wasn’t lavish. I told them that was stingy, that lavish would be to pull out a fire-hose and blow Devon right out the window with the water pressure! They wanted me to do that!
The fact is, I didn’t have a fire-hose available or a fire hydrant to hook it up to – and I’m not sure Twin Tiers Church would have appreciated it if I had. I couldn’t lavish water when all I had was an eye-dropper of water available. What amazes John is the realization that God has an ocean of love for us, and He doesn’t dispense it with an eye dropper, He fire-hoses it one us. He lavishes His love on us!
We know that Jesus came to save us from our sin, and if all he had accomplished on the cross was to make it possible for us to go to heaven as servants of God like the angels that would have been lavish love. But God did SO much more than that – His love for us is so much bigger than that! When Jesus said “it is finished” he meant that everything was accomplished that was necessary to make us children of God. To reunite us with God, not just as our Creator, but as our heavenly Father. Wow. Let that sink in.
If you have a great father who loves and cares for you, you have a beautiful taste of the kind of love your heavenly Father has for you, but it’s just a small taste – an eyedropper, compared to a fire-hose. If you had a father who wasn’t loving or wasn’t involved in your life, then that longing you have for a father who does love and care for you finds its ultimate answer in the lavish love of the heavenly Father. Why did God send His Son for you? Why did Jesus die on the cross for you? Because of God wanted to lavish His love on you by making you His child! Your part is to receive His lavish love with faith, to accept what Jesus accomplished on the cross as a gift and believe in his finished work. When we do, we are born again as sons and daughters of God. Lavish love!
After John says, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! he underlines it by saying, And that is what we are! These aren’t empty words - we really are God’s children! That is what we are! It’s hard to believe cause it’s so crazy, but believe it! Believe it! God has adopted you as His son, as His daughter. You have all the love that the Father can lavish on you. Nothing will change our sense of who we are or what our lives are about more than getting this awesome truth: the God of the universe is my heavenly Father.
We don’t want to move on from these words too quickly. There is ministry for our hearts in these words. This truth – if we get it the way John wants us to get it – brings incredible comfort to us. It means that when we pray we aren’t just going to God, we’re going to our Father who loves us lavishly. Is there something you’re working through or struggling with in your life now? The Father knows and He cares. Are you going through a trial that just seems like it’s more than you can bear? The Father knows and cares, and He will be with you every step of the way and He will see you through it. Are you dealing with disappointments or regrets about where you’re at or even about who you are? How God made you. Who God made you. You can go to the Father and trust Him with whatever is on your heart. Whatever our lives look like – not just in this moment but from beginning to end – knowing that we have a heavenly Father who loves us with a lavish love makes all the difference. Get it, believe it! That is what we are!
An old friend asked me this week if I kept a journal and if so, had I recorded an event that happened in 1997. I did keep a journal, but unfortunately I hadn’t written down the details of the event she was asking about. But I got to reading about events and thoughts I had written down back in the 1990’s. 20 years ago. And I’ll be honest, I had mixed feelings. As I read about some of the decisions I was making and the thought process involved, I was like, “What was wrong with me? What was I thinking? Can I go back and give myself some advice?” I think over the years I’ve learned a few things and maybe gained a little wisdom that would have been helpful back then. But there were also prayers and hopes written that made me realize I’ve lost some of the simple child-like faith and idealism that I had back then and that made me sad. I want that back (but with the wisdom!) As I read, sometimes I was encouraged and full of faith. Then, literally, I’d turn the page and find I was discouraged and felt like giving up. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of sweet reminders and precious memories captured in those pages (like the moment when my five year old Jennifer gave her Barney raincoat to Jared cause she was too old to wear it). As I read through it I saw over and over again God’s faithfulness to us and I’m so grateful for that. But as I read about events and prayers and efforts and dreams that are now over 20 years old, it almost felt like I had this out of body experience and could look down on myself (albeit a 20 year younger self) and from the vantage point of time, what seemed so important then seems so unimportant now, and it’s not a leap to think the same thing will be true 20 years from now. I know I’m getting a little mid-life-crisisy on you but it left me feeling a little melancholy.
This passage speaks loudly to that. We’re all writing our journals right now. Whether you actually keep a written journal or not, you’re living your journal right now. Here’s what you need to keep in mind: this verse contains the most important thing about your life. The most significant thing. See, the most important thing isn’t whether you get that job you’re hoping for, or whether you’re incredibly successful in your career or got fired from your latest job. The most important thing about you isn’t whether you can afford to buy that new home, or whether you get married or have kids. The most important thing about your life isn’t whether you are in great health or poor health or whether you have a ton of friends or a handful of friends or no friends. The most important thing about you isn’t – and this may shock you to hear me say this - whether you serve God or accomplish great things for the kingdom or little things for the kingdom or pretty much nothing for the kingdom. All these things are important aspects of your life, but they’re not the most important thing about your life.
The most important words in your journal, and in mine, aren’t even words we write. They’re words God writes. Through Christ God has taken our journal and written over it, “this is My son. This is My daughter. And I love them with a lavish love!” Wow. Let that sink in. If we get it like John wants us to get it: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! It will reorient how we see life. How we see our accomplishments. How we see our failures. How we see our trials. How we see our victories. How we see our regrets. Because over all of that are written the words “loved by the Father”. And that makes all the difference. The first life changing truth in these verses is God has lavished His love on us by making us His children. The second life-changing truth is this:
As children of God, we should live with the hope of Jesus’ second coming always in our hearts
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
When John says “now we’re children of God and what we will be has not yet been made known” he isn’t saying that we won’t be children of God then. He’s saying that our Father has something amazing planned for us – something that we can’t really know yet. But what we do know is that when Jesus appears we will be transformed in a moment to be like him. When we see him in all his glory with all the angels of God following him, we will instantly be changed into his image and will be like him. But what that means we don’t totally know right now.
I have often found that when I watch a movie trailer I get this feeling that I know most of the plot from the trailer. But if I go to see the movie I realize there is so much more to it than the trailer revealed. The trailer was just a taste – accurate but nowhere near complete. We know a little bit about what the resurrected Jesus was like, but really not much. “Yeah, he could walk through walls when he wanted to and stuff like that.” And so we imagine that we’ll be walking through walls for all of eternity and it seems like that might get old after a few thousand years. How many times can surprising your next door neighbor by walking into their mansion without knocking get a laugh?
Just a trailer. Jesus is God. He has always had the infinite power and glory and attributes of God. Now, without any reduction in that infinite power and glory and infinite attributes of God, the Son of God will forever be a Resurrected Man. And we will be like him. Not saying we’ll be God, but we will have power and glory and attributes that will way overshadow the angels. One day, Paul says, we will judge angels. John says, we don’t know what we will be. Not, what will happen to us, or what heaven will be like. What we will be. The power and intelligence and wisdom and capabilities our new bodies will have. The freedom we’ll have from all fear and sadness and the capacity to love and laugh and enjoy life. It’ll be fire-hose living compared to our eye-dropper living right now. We don’t know, but we know it’s gonna be better than we can imagine.
And all of this: knowing that we are beloved children of our heavenly Father, that He loves us with a lavish love, and that He has unspeakably wonderful things planned for us when our short journal on this earth is complete, gives us a hope that does a purifying work in us.
3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
There is a strong connection between our hope and our holiness. If our Christian hope is weak, our Christian walk will grow sloppy. If our walk grows sloppy, our hope will grow weak. They are connected. Remember chapter 2 verse 28:
28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
In the Greek there is a word play that doesn’t show up in the English translation. The Greek word for Jesus’ appearing is parousia. The Greek word for “confidence” is parr?"sia. John is saying: live in such a way that you have parresia at Jesus’ parousia. You have confidence at his appearing. We should live in such a way that when he appears in glory, we do not shrink back ashamed and embarrassed, we run to him with confidence. When the hope of Christ’s appearing burns in our hearts, it will have a purifying effect on how we live our lives.
Never think that being convinced of the Father’s lavish love will lead you to give up on trying to live a holy life. Never think that it takes fear and terror to motivate you to live a pure life. Nope. The hope of His lavish love and the day of Jesus’ appearing has a purifying effect on our lives. And our Father’s love leads Him not only to comfort us, but to correct us when we run off the rails. The Father corrects His children. He disciplines those whom He loves. So He will correct us and that is a blessing too. His spankings are good. Painful but good. The hope of His love works in us to purify us and conform us into the image of Jesus and when we get off, our Father doesn’t abandon us or give up on us, He corrects us. And that is a sign of His love for us.
In these closing moments, let’s take a moment to let this sink in: the Father loves you. He loves you. Let that wash over your life. See those words written over the journal of your life: this is my son. This is my daughter. I love you with a lavish love. Let’s quietly reflect on that and then we’ll close with a time of worship.