There is a song that we have sung in our services at church called, “How Great Is the Love” (by Meredith Andrews, Paul Baloche & Jacob Scooter). The chorus declares, “Jesus, faithful King / Lord, with grateful hearts we sing / How great is the love / How great is the love of our Savior / The weight of the cross / the curse of our shame / You carried it all and rose from the grave! / How great is the love / How great is the love of our Savior!” The verses of the song are a litany of reasons why we thank God.
This song brings to my mind a verse in the Bible that has always brought a smile to my lips…
1 John 3:1 says, “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 love the thought of God “lavishing” His love on us - on me! One definition of the word “lavish” that I have found says it means to “bestow something in generous or extravagant quantities upon.” When I think of God heaping His love on me like this, I am amazed (and sometimes even wonder, “why?”).
John goes on in the following verses to explain how we know God has lavished His love - because He made a way in which we can be called His own children. As a believer in Jesus Christ, I am adopted as a son to the Creator of the universe. I have a Father who adopted me, not because of what I’ve done, but because He loves me. When a human family sets out to adopt a child, infant or grown, there is nothing the child has done to warrant the love of the family. Many times, the family is rescuing the child from a troublesome circumstance. Or maybe, the family just has so much love to share they want to bring in another person to partake in that love. I see both of these reasons in my heavenly Father as He brought me into His family. Sometimes I may stray from my Father’s instructions and what He lays out as the best plan for me (I sin), yet He still loves me. And as any parent would, He disciplines, encourages, and guides.
I find such relief and rest in my identity as a child of God. But, sometimes my view of my own identity becomes clouded by other things.
Paul Tripp, in his book “Dangerous Calling,” describes God as having the perfect mirror. When we go to Him openly and honestly, seeking Him through the Holy Bible, and through Godly counsel from other believers, He will show us who we really are. And for me, the reflection isn’t that pretty without Jesus. But in having Jesus as my Savior, He is included in the reflection. He covers me, and allows me to be a child of God.
If we find our identity in other things like marriage, work, athletics, wealth or ministry, we are looking at our reflection in a carnival mirror - distorted and not quite right. We will end up exhausted or depressed because we can almost never measure up to the cultural “ideal” or do enough to feel complete.
I am not “something” because of what I do.
I am “something” because of who I am - a child of God!