Weekly Wisdoms for the week of January 3, 2011
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, the authors of Scripture use the images of a father and his child, a husband and his wife, and a friend and his companion to describe the relationship between God and his people.
According to Genesis 1 and 2, when God created the first human being, Adam, God breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). In a very profound sense, Adam was a son of God (see Luke 3:38). In Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, the son takes his inheritance and runs away from his father because he is seeking joy and pleasure in a very different lifestyle. Similarly, Adam inherited a beautiful paradise, but by trying to become like God (Genesis 3:5), Adam rejected the Father who breathed life into him.
In addition to using father and son language to describe God and his people, Scripture uses the language of marriage: Just as a marriage is commenced in vows so also the relationship between God and his people is sanctified in covenantal vows. God made a covenant with the nation of Israel: "I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people" (Leviticus 26:12). God remained faithful, but his people cheated on him; they slept with the gods of other nations such that the Lord sent prophets to call back his adulterous people: "'Return, faithless people,' declares the Lord, 'for I am your husband'" (Jeremiah 3:14). (See also Isaiah 54:5-6; Jeremiah 3:20; 31:32; Ezekiel 16:32.)
But God, in his great love and unswerving commitment to his covenant, did not give up on the child who rejected him, the wife who cheated on him, and the friend who betrayed him. God could not overlook our sins, but instead sent his son, Jesus, to absorb God's wrath against all those who had rejected and betrayed him. While we were still sinners and enemies, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Through Christ's death, you, by faith, can be adopted as a child of God (Romans 8:14-17, James 4:4-5). Because of Christ's work on the Cross, the Father can celebrate "for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found" (Luke 15:24).
As God's adopted children from every race, ethnicity, society, and people-group, we are his people. Just as a husband and wife are united and become one flesh, so also, we, God's people, will be united with Christ in a new marriage covenant when he returns (Ephesians 5:31-32, Revelation 19:6-9).
Finally, because Christ, through his obedient life and sacrificial death, absorbed the wrath of God, you, if you have placed your faith in Christ, are no longer an enemy of God. You have an entirely new identity. Now, instead of being an enemy, you are, like Abraham, a friend of God (James 2:23).
What good news! The wonderful grace that defines Christianity is all about being pursued and adopted by the Father we rejected, being forgiven by the husband we cheated on, and being embraced by the Friend we betrayed. And when we think about this amazing grace, there is no room for anything but completely unavoidable rejoicing.
It's very tempting to think that happiness will come to me once I get something: "I would be happy if I just had a bigger house, another car, a better job, more money, a different wife, a nicer family, a new TV...." But such thoughts are very deceptive.
In truth, all those things we want actually make us miserable; we fight and quarrel about what we want, and then we're upset when we don't get it (see James 4:1-4). Don't get caught up in things that you want or need. Instead, you should not worry about getting what you need; rest assured your heavenly Father will take care of what you need (see Matthew 6:30-32).
It's foolish to make your enjoyment of life hinge upon anything. There will always be one more thing for you to acquire before you can "enjoy life." The more you have, the more you have to worry about, which makes life that much harder to enjoy.
Instead of expecting possessions or circumstances to give you joy, seek the only source of everlasting joy—Jesus. Jesus says he came to Earth "so that [you] may have the full measure of my joy within [you]" (John 17:13). Similarly, Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).
Jesus offers to make our joy complete and to give us the full measure of his joy. Since Jesus is wholly God, His joy is complete and whole joy. That Jesus offers us such joy is astonishing.
Therefore, find your joy in God for in his presence is fullness of joy (see Psalm 16:11). Don't let your joy depend on getting all the things you want because there will always be more things that you don't have, and therefore there will always be more things that will prevent you from enjoying life. Let Jesus be your joy, rather than waiting to enjoy life "when...."
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All scripture quotations are in italics. Some portions of scripture have been placed in bold by the author for emphasis.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION©. NIV©. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) are taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.