I want you to think about the different loving relationships you have had in your life. It could be with one of your parents, a sibling, a friend, your spouse, your children. Think about what made that relationship special. In that relationship did the other person accept you for the person you are, with all your faults, your insecurities? Did that person make you feel special, wanted, loved? Was that relationship one where it was okay if you messed up, did something out of character or were just not on that day?
We were created by our Father in Heaven to be in a special intimate relationship with him. We were created out of his desire to share his very being, love, with us and to allow us to enter into an eternity of love with him. Through original sin, we made a conscious choice to reject the relationship we had been called into. Through pride, we sought to put ourselves in the place of God. We turned our backs on our relationship with God and decided we would go our own way. Through these actions, we were separated from our Father in Heaven. How many relationships have we been in where through our actions we have broken the bonds of that relationship and have never been able to return to the uniqueness of that relationship.
This week we will explore the central message of Jesus. Jesus came to Earth to call us back to the Father, to reestablish the bonds that had been broken by our rejection of the Father. Jesus came to not only tell us but to show us in person that our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be personally involved with him in a relationship of love that we will want to share with all we encounter.
Dave makes four central points about the Father’s love for us.
- God our Father in Heaven “initiates” a personal intimate relationship with each of us. It is the Father who personally calls us by name to this loving relationship.
- The Father’s love for us is “unconditional.” It is not a relationship that we can earn or merit. The Father’s love for us is a “free gift” and is available to us 24/7 whether we accept it or not. There is nothing we can do that causes the Father to love us less or to cease his continuous call to enter into this relationship.
- This is not a relationship that is forced upon us by the Father. Through our gift of free will, “we are free to enter into or to reject” this invitation from the Father. It is our choice.
- The Father’s love for us is “personal.” To fully accept the invitation of the Father is to allow us to enter into the Trinitarian love that exists between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Throughout his ministry here on Earth Jesus showed us the power of the love that exists in this special loving relationship. Jesus showed us how this “self-sacrificing” “willing the good of the other” “Agape love” can transform us and those we encounter. In every encounter during his ministry, the people who engaged with Jesus were transformed, i.e. the call to the disciples, the tax collector, the healing of the Centurion’s servant, the calming of the Sea, the healing of the paralytic, the woman who touched Jesus cloak, the healing of the two blind men, the healing of the mute person etc, etc, etc.
I would ask you this week to explore where you are at in your acceptance of the Father’s invitation into a loving personal relationship. Have you fully accepted the fact that you are an unconditionally loved child of God, the creator of everything that exists? Do you comprehend the magnitude of this gift freely offered by our Father? Do you accept the fact that the Father unconditionally accepts you for the person you are with all your faults and insecurities? Once you fully accept this gift you will be able to share this love with all you encounter and draw them into acceptance of their relationship with Jesus and the Father. This relationship is the heart of our discipleship.
Please feel free to reflect on and discuss our questions for this week:
- What was a significant point from Dave’s talk for you?
- Are there people in your life who could never do anything to make you love them less? Why do you love them unconditionally?
- Who is someone in your life that loves you unconditionally?
- What are some instances of pain or difficulty you have seen in the lives of others or in yourself? How does seeing this pain affect your understanding of God the Father?
- Consider the father image in the Modern Day Parable Video. What does it tell you about God?
- How do you avoid dealing with your junk?
- What are your thoughts about God the Father’s love for you? Do you believe God loves you no matter what you’ve done or will do? Why or why not?
- What are obstacles that might keep you from receiving God the Father’s unconditional love?