Saturday, March 3, 2012

A great promise from Jesus

Being a keen observer of human nature, and having read on this particular subject, and being in the midst of my own continual struggle in this matter, I can pinpoint four of the key needs men have, in order to be properly strengthened and/or healed. I am talking about spiritual needs, toward God. In an ideal home situation, the boy grows up experiencing these modeled in his own family, especially by his father. In the worst case scenario, the boy grows up learning the *opposite* of these (My dad doesn't enjoy quality time with me, I am not loved, I am not accepted, I can't do anything right, etc.) and coming to Christ he has to relearn the truth about these directly from his heavenly Father, though hopefully with some of this made manifest by older men in his church family. But it should also be said that even growing up in a godly home, there is always some brokenness. Anyway, here are the four needs:

1. The Father's presence. This one is upsetting for me as I think back on a mostly great Biblical education that did, on the other hand, often de-emphasize (and sometimes even demonize) the reality of the *experienced* presence of God. Yet this is a basic need. Those who ignore it only damage themselves and those around them, and have perhaps trained themselves to ignore a major theme of the Bible as they do their daily reading. Who wouldn't want to experience the presence of God!?
2. The Father's love. That is, we were created to be *delighted in* by God; to know we bring Him joy, to know He would want to spend time with us, to know that we matter to Him.
3. To be fruitful. All men desire to be productive, which is no surprise, as this was also a creation mandate.
4. The Father's commendation. This is very important also--that God not only delights in us, but also in our labors. That we are found worthy in His sight. This is the result of number 3.

I believe that most of our idolatry, addictiveness, manipulative behavior, depression, etc. results largely from not knowing or embracing some marvelous things Jesus promised to those who love Him (which I am almost ready to share).

But first, take stock of those four. What did you grow up believing about God and about yourself in these regards? For whatever brokenness lingers, I have discovered a great promise from Jesus in the apostle John's account of Jesus' life. Jesus said this:

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (Jn 14:23)

I believe Jesus, in this one sentence, meets all four of the needs listed above.

Firstly, the Father's presence is promised to us when Jesus says "we will come to him and make our home with him." If He is coming to us, and not only that, but making His *home* with us, we have the promise of God's continual presence. He is at home with us, and we with Him. That is a marvelous promise!

Secondly, the Father's love is promised to us plainly--"my Father will love him". And as stated already, we have this promise not to be loved merely in an abstract or inaccessible way, but that God loves us greatly enough to build His home with us.

Thirdly is the issue of being fruitful, and fourthly is the need to be commended by God. These two go together. They may seem like more of a stretch to pull from this passage, but I believe it is both explicit and implicit from John 14:23 that Jesus promises (to those who love Him) fruitfulness and commendation by God. Explicitly, we have the first part of Jesus' statement: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. What better measure of fruitfulness is there, than keeping Jesus' word? Granted, this is different. The first two were about God doing things, and this is about us doing something. Well, that's the whole point--we have a desire to be fruitful, and Jesus promises us that if we love Him, we will be. Implicitly, what could be more of a sign of God's confidence in us to be fruitful than that He would make His home with us? In addition, consider the great closeness with God that Jesus says we will experience ("we will make our home with him"), and remember that Jesus elsewhere tells us closeness with Him is the only path to true fruitfulness and productivity - I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (Jn 15:5)

So read this again, soak it in and delight in it - “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."


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