In the human family, it is the father who affirms us as male and female and as persons. It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers. But when we’ve failed to get the needed affirmation, we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed … in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons … God the Father, who has the Power of Being, heals and affirms us.
In God’s Presence, we’ve come before the One who speaks worlds into being, who delights in speaking new worlds of “being” into our very souls, affirming, as He does so, those very parts of ourselves that have (for whatever reason) not been called forth and blessed in our families and earthly relationships.
The Healing Presence: Curing the Soul Through Union with Christ, Leanne Payne
The parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers. This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format. Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures. You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.
Warm-up Questions: 1. Read “Children Incognito."
2. What are some characteristics of a child? Do you ever feel that way inside?
3. Can you identify with the key thought? How? "We are all just little children locked up in adult bodies, trying to live adult lives in an adult world."
4. What do you think about the proposed solution? "The only way we can live an adult life in an adult world is by living as a ‘child’ in relationship with our Father."
Jesus' attitude toward children:
Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them: for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14
Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:3-5
Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me. Mark 9:37
Jesus Himself called His disciples “little children." Look at the following with a smile:
How would you summarize Jesus' attitude toward children?
Jesus, God’s Perfect Child: How did Jesus live as a Child? What can we learn by looking at His relationship with His Abba and our relationship with Him? Look at the following Scriptures to answer these questions:
1. Jesus lived secure in the Father’s love.
Because of the Indwelling Christ (Col 1:27), I can live asAbba’s child, secure in my Father’s love. I can love and be loved in return.
Brennan Manning in his wonderful book, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, says,
“Define yourself as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” (p.40)
We may do foolish, even downright sinful things, yet as Steve Brown likes to say, “But God is still fond of me.”
Can you say the same? Do you know the unconditional love of the Father despite your brokenness? If not, ask the Lord to enable you to experience His love which is greater than life itself.
That leads us into the next point…
2. Jesus lived from His identity as the Son of His Father.
Jesus has been called the “Human Face of God”. He bears the family resemblance. His identity was as the only-begotten Son of His Father. Jesus never lived separate from His Abba.
Because I’m in Christ (1Cor 1:30) and He's in me (Col 1:27), I can live as Abba’s child, finding my identity in being the beloved child of the Father. I become like Him as I by faith yield to Him and focus on Him.
The realization that the Father has placed me in Christ His Son and that He, the Perfect Child of the Father, lives in me enables me to live day by day in union with the Father and the Son.
3. Jesus lived with trust and submission to His Father even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
As Abba’s childI can trust my Father in every circumstance, no matter how mundane or dark. I can trust in His presence, provision, and purpose.
1. What keeps you from living as a “child” in relationship with your Abba?
2. What might change if you began living as a child with your Abba, rather than trying to live as an adult on your own?
Brennan Manning states that
the positive qualities of a child---openness, playfulness, simplicity, sensitivity to feelings—restrain us from closing ourselves off to new ideas, surprises of the Spirit, and risky opportunities for growth.
3. Spend some time with these questions…and with your Abba. Ask Him to enable you to walk with Him as His beloved, vulnerable child today.
Suggested reading: Gospel of John -- look at the relationship between the Father & Jesus the Son Return of the Prodigal by Henri J.M. Nouwen Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning The Rabbi’s Heartbeat by Brennan Manning
[First posted on May 2, 2011]