What You Have To “Do” To Get God’s Approval?
As a Christian pastor, speaker, and writer I have the opportunity to talk with a lot of people about their faith and their walk with God.
Sad to say I see to many people crippled in their relationship with their Heavenly Father because they have this nagging feeling that “they aren’t doing enough for the Lord”.
Although they would never admit it in these terms the attitude can be “well, considering everything Jesus did for me, I owe God more than what I am currently doing.”
Oh, if only they could know the joy that their just “being his child” brings to God. That we don’t have to do anything to earn the favor, acceptance, and the honor to be called his son or daughter.
Zero Performance Needed
Jesus, as always, shows us how this happens
Sonship (and daughtership) is, at its root, a declaration. A statement not from son to father but from father to son which says, “I love you, you are my joy, and you will never be alone.”
It’s not surprising then that God the Father declares his love and pleasure with Jesus at two very distinct points in Christ’s ministry; at the beginning and near the end.
In Matthew chapter 3 we see the first declaration of the father’s love towards Jesus.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3: 16-17
Interestingly enough Jesus hasn’t done anything of note at this point. He hadn’t healed any lepers or restored sight to any any blind. He hadn’t calmed any storms, forgiven a person of their sins, or preached one sermon yet announcing the coming Kingdom of God.
We have no record of his having done anything for God at this point!
And how do we know this?
Well, probably because no one was following his every footstep, plotting to make him a king, or trying to kill him yet. Three things he seemed to constantly deal with when his ministry really got going and he was doing stuff for God.
No, when he was baptized by John the Baptist he was just this guy….
True, he did seem to have a gifted knack for understanding scripture (Luke 2:47-49) but other than that, he was just the local handy man who probably made his neighbours kitchen table or set their door frame.
Jesus had, as Isaiah 53 would predict, nothing that would naturally draw people to him.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
But he had something that transformed him and the way he engaged with the world and it was this;
He walked in the absolute assurance that he was God’s son and that his Father in heaven absolutely adored him.
Jesus knew he didn’t have to do anything to prove himself to God. He didn’t have to earn his father’s affection. He knew he already had it before he had done anything…
This is the son that I love and I am very pleased with him.
Jesus experiences the exact same affirmation at the conclusion of his ministry just before he enters Jerusalem for the last time.
Taking Peter, James, and John up a mountainside the disciples witness the Father once again pronounce his love and pleasure
He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,with whom I am well pleased listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
Matthew 17: 7-9
At this point Jesus had accomplished great things. He had healed the sick, cast out devils, showed power over nature, and proclaimed the Kingdom of God had come.
And yet he received the exact same declaration of love and affirmation as when he had done nothing.
Jesus had the impact he did with people because he communicated the total adoration and compassion God had for his children without an added nagging sense of obligation… a sense of burden the Pharisees and religious leaders often did lay on them.
We don’t accomplish great things and then God loves us, no, it’s when we understand how much God loves us that we are empowered to accomplish great things.
It’s really, really important to understand that!
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