A friend of mine from India once told me the story of a young orphan boy who was adopted into a loving family. One day while he was drying the dishes in the kitchen, he dropped a plate and it shattered on the floor. Immediately he ran out of the room in a panic.
His adopted parents went looking for the boy but could not find him for some time. Eventually they found him hiding under his bed, shivering in fear. Once they coaxed him to come out from under the bed, they asked him why he ran away and hid. His answer, though heart breaking, echoes the same fear that many believers struggle with in their own lives. This is what the little boy said... "I thought you would return me back to the orphanage because I broke a plate".
When people hear this story, usually their immediate response is one of being shocked that this little boy would carry such a deep insecurity in his heart. After all, his new parents took the time and expense to go through the adoption process to bring him into their family. How crazy would it be if they decided to return him to the orphanage simply because he made a mistake?
In the natural, it is plain for us to see how tragic it would be for someone who has been adopted into a loving family to live a life with this kind of insecurity. Something inside all of us would want to hug this little guy and comfort him and tell him that he is completely safe and secure in his new family.
While this kind of response would make complete sense in the natural realm, how does it play out in our spiritual lives? Do we feel that our position in our Heavenly Father's house is completely safe and secure? Or do we feel like our standing in our Father's heart is conditional on us following all of the rules of the house?
While it might not be presented in such black and white terms in Sunday sermons, I do believe that there can be an underlying theology in some circles that would cause us to feel that our Heavenly Father's love is indeed conditional. If we 'break a plate', our standing in His house might be in jeopardy. If we don't follow all of the guidelines that the church requires, perhaps we will find ourselves on the outside looking in rather than being on the inside looking out?
While I don't believe that this kind of teaching is intentional, I do believe that the love of law can subtlely replace the law of love (James 2:8) if we aren't careful. If we don't make love our greatest aim (1 Corinthians 14:1), if we don't keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21), if we don't choose to live in love (1 John 4:16), the alternative is to live a life where our focus will be on other things.
If we are not secure in the revelation that we are completely and absolutely loved by God no matter what we do, we could live our Christian lives on the roller coaster of self judgment and condemnation. If we are not convinced that we are loved for eternity, we may spend our lives pulling out one flower petal at a time repeating the mantra... He loves me, He loves me NOT.
I truly believe that our Heavenly Father wants us to know that our position in His heart has been settled once and for all by the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe that our God and Father wants us to know that nothing in all creation can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). I believe that He wants us to stop living in fear of being rejected and start living in the security and safety of being completely and perfectly loved by the One who is love itself!
In this week's Scripture passage, the Apostle John reminds us that because of the Father's great love for us, He calls us His kids!!!!! (Note the exclamation point at the end of this declaration in the WEB version) The life changing truth is that as believers, we need to be reminded that the moment we truly received Jesus into our hearts, we became sons and daughters of the living God. And it was at that very moment that God gave us His own Spirit as a seal to guarantee our inheritance (2 Corinthians 1:22) as co-heirs with our Big Brother... Jesus!
The good news that needs to be shouted from the housetops is that our place in Abba's heart is not based on what we do, but is based solely on what Christ already did. Jesus paid the price that we could not pay to secure our salvation and our good standing as His brothers and sisters. If we are not convinced that the finished work of Christ is enough, then we will live a life where we believe that God's love is conditional based on our performance.
When my own children were little, if they broke a plate, I would be thrilled if they stayed around to clean it up! It would have never occurred to them that their position in our family would be at stake because they broke a plate! God wants us to have that same rock-solid security in our hearts towards Him.
Though we may break many plates in our life's journey, God's heart for us will never change for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). The more we realize that we are covered by the love of God, the more we will stop creating fig leaves of self-righteous works and rest in His covering over all of the broken areas of our life.
My prayer today is that each and every one of us would know that the love God has for us is ours for eternity. May the revelation of His unconditional love and acceptance bring a safety and security to our lives that would cause us not to run away from Him when we fall. May we know that our identity in Christ is secure and everlasting for it is by grace that we are saved and not of our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9) ...even when we break a plate or two. :)
Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. (WEB)