“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
A two-way relationship
One of the greatest discoveries a believer can ever make is the wonderful truth that God is our Father and we are his children. Without a clear and full revelation of this we cannot ever be fully and securely rooted in Him.
But we shouldn’t stop here. Understanding our identity as God’s children is no end in itself. It is the starting point of our relationship with the Father. And as every relationship works in two ways, a give and receive, this is the case also in our relationship with God.
So what is it that we give, what is our contribution to that Father-child relationship? What does God, our Father, expect from us? He certainly does not need our protection or provision, our approval, help or advice (although he appreciates us sharing our thoughts with him!).
Our role model who teaches us how a child of God should relate to the Father is Jesus, God the Son: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:29
Jesus our role model
The firstborn among us, the eternal Son Jesus, is our example in our relationship with the Father (our “model son”). And throughout the gospels, there is one thing that stands out in this relationship: Jesus’ unreserved obedience and submission to the Father.
Jesus only did what He saw the Father do, he never acted independently (John 5:19).
Jesus always ensured all glory and praise was given to the Father not to himself (John 4:23, 8:54, Matthew 5:16, 6:6, Luke 10:22).
And Jesus was obedient to the Father even to death (Philippians 2:8).
The principle is that as God’s children we are called to live life in complete (yet loving) submission. Loving because we submit out of love, not fear. Our obedience is our fitting response to the One who first loved us, not a means to earn his love, let alone turn away his wrath.
Obedience founded on love and relationship
Jesus’ obedience originated in his love for the Father and was a result on him knowing the Father. He heard His voice and knew His will and obeyed in every situation, but never followed a catalogue of rules.
Even the night before Jesus’ ultimate act of obedience, when he surrendered himself into the hands of sinners and mockers, to be beaten, flogged and crucified, he fellowshipped with his Father, hearing from Him, being strengthened by Him and finally yielding to His will.
Loving the Father and being loved in return
Jesus obeyed because he loved the Father and because he knew the Father loved him in return. His willingness to give himself as a sacrifice was out of love to the Father, but in perfect trust that the Father loved him so much that he would raise him up again.
Our obedience likewise is not about meeting rules and regulations, but doing God’s will as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Follow the Spirit’s leading and you will do the will of the Father. But do it out of love, knowing the Father loves you and wants the best for you. Remember that God is not your taskmaster but your Father.
When we do the Father’s will, we know that we are in His will, and that is in our own self-interest. When we are in the Father’s will we can be reassured that He will take care of us, because He loves us. As long as we are concerned about our own needs and wants, we will lack this assurance.