Ephesians 3:14-15 ‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.’
We all know the difference between knowing something – and really knowing it. We can have an idea, a concept, but to experience the reality contained within that idea is another matter. That can bring disillusionment. If the idea doesn’t translate into experience, then it is a small step to doubt the validity of the idea.
For example, there is no doubt in the mind of most Christians that they have immense value. Of course they have – they are ‘in Christ’, they have been redeemed with the ‘precious blood of Christ’, they are loved by the Father – what more could they possibly want? But does that really affect what you feel about yourself? Not necessarily. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t guarantee that the idea will translate into a definite change in attitude towards yourself.
Fortunately, as in most things, God is one step ahead. What is his solution? Family. His family. Now we wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t been part of a family at some point – at least a father and mother. Our experience with our parents might have left us with a good sense of our value – or very little. If parents didn’t connect with our introvert – whether because we wouldn’t let them or they didn’t know how to – the end result is low self-esteem. This is where God’s family comes in.
I like Riddle’s translation of our Bible verse , ‘Wherever in heaven or in earth beings are grouped from their relation to a father, the name they bear in each case is derived from the Father.’ In other words, at the back of all fatherhood is God. Fatherhood is his idea; he is good at it. Earthly fathers fail, but God is 100% reliable. We can trust him. Again, that sounds a great idea, and it happens to be correct, but it can remain an idea – unless we take God’s family seriously. We know we have a heavenly Father because we have brothers and sisters. Understanding that is the key to the truth getting from head to heart.
When God wanted his word to be communicated to us effectively, he dressed that word in human form. Those who walked with Jesus felt the heart of God. John couldn’t be clearer, ‘We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life’ (1 John 1:1. NLT). Our brothers and sisters, through God’s indwelling Spirit, can be the word of God in a form that obliges us to make choices that produce emotional change.
Let me illustrate. Imagine a married couple in which the husband struggles to know his value outside of his work. Not hard to imagine! Both are Christians, so not only marriage partners but brother and sister. The wife loves her husband dearly and wants the best for him, but he struggles to accept his true value, so he is defensive. His response to his wife will determine whether he allows his heart to be touched by the love of the Father. He can choose to respond positively to the woman before him. John says, ‘Whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen’ (1 John 4:20). In other words, is your wife offering her love? Choose to open your heart to the truth. Shut your wife out, and you shut the experience of God’s love out. Of course, it works both ways round. Trust each other’s hearts despite failings on either side and you will know what it feels like to be loved, valued and genuinely accepted. You don’t have to be married to experience this. You may not have a husband or wife, but you have the vital factor in this equation – brothers and sisters. That commitment to uphold one another in love means that there are people who are saying that they want to journey with you, through thick and thin, whatever it takes. By God’s Spirit, they will communicate to your heart the truth that is in God’s heart towards you and, at least in some measure, the way God feels about you. It’s down to how you respond to God’s love in them. May we all have open hearts to receive the word God.