Friday, March 1, 2024

What Great Love the Father Has Lavished

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us.” Lavished! I love that word. It speaks of generosity, abundance, extravagance and grace. It reminds me of the extravagant love of the father in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (see here and here). So, I like that the New International Version uses this word to translate didomi (in its perfect tense). The King James Version, too, renders the line very nicely: “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” It is freely given to us.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

What manner of love is this? How magnanimous and strange and unexpected it is. See what God has done in his great love for us: He has called us his children — children of God. He is not unapproachable deity, for he has come and revealed himself fully to us in Christ the Son, for Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”

The Father has bestowed his love upon us, lavished it upon us without condition and without boundary. God, who is love, has given us what and who he is — divine love. He has given us himself in intimate relationship.

Children of God is not what we must aspire to and somehow accomplish. Children of God is what we are — right here and right now, fully and completely. We will never be more the children of God, more loved and accepted by God, than we are in this present moment.

We are children of God not because of anything we have done, not even by our faith, but because of what God has done for us in Christ. That is the gospel truth about every one of us. But the world does not recognize the truth of this; it does not recognize our identity — and their own identity — in Christ because it did not recognize Christ himself.

When John says that all who have this hope purify themselves, he does not mean that they go to work, do the do and clean themselves up. That would be to miss the point about our identity in Christ. It would fold being back into doing and collapse everything down into moralism and legalism. We do not become children of God by our own doing, nor do we purify ourselves by our own efforts. We will be like Christ not by what we have done but because “we shall see him as him as he is.”

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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