We Are God’s Children
Open Your Bible
1 John 2:28-29, 1 John 3:1-10, John 3:1-15, James 1:19-27
BY Erin Davis
God the Son is a concept I can wrap my brain around. His humanity makes Jesus feel approachable, relatable even. God the Spirit is a more abstract concept, but my head and heart can still connect the dots. I’ve felt the Spirit’s stirrings in my heart. I’ve seen Him bring peace and joy to His people. But God the Father? I’m afraid that’s where you lose me. Picturing Him feels like lying on my back and watching cloud pictures float across the sky. One second I can make out the edges of the image through squinted eyes; the next, it’s gone. I have a hard time grasping God the Father and an even harder time picturing God as my Father.
You don’t have to read too closely between the lines to discern that my relationship with my dad has been complicated. There’s affection there, but we’ve learned the hard way that the bumps and potholes of life can fracture our tender bond. There’s no reason to go into the specifics here because you’re likely already thinking of your own dad. Perhaps he’s been absent, apathetic, or abusive, and when you get to passages that describe God as Father, you can’t help but question His love for you. Or maybe when you count your lucky stars, your loving, attentive earthly father is among them. Even so, your earthly father is a sinner, incapable of loving you perfectly.
So when the Bible speaks of God’s love for us as a paternal love (1John 3:1), the kind between a loving father and a devoted daughter, it can be hard to see the full picture. John’s letter urges us to keep squinting, to keep trying to see God the Father. There’s a cadence, a rhythm that beats throughout the letter. John refers to God as Father over and over. That’s the downbeat: God is Father. God is Father. God is your Father. Look again and you’ll find a counter rhythm, the sweet language of childhood, gently referring to us, the readers, as little children, beloved and born of God (1John 3:2,7; 4:7). This language isn’t patronizing, but tender. The upbeat of the letter is this: You are His child. You are His child. You are His beloved child.
I’m well into my adult years, but sometimes my heart still takes the posture of a little girl, doubting God’s love or wanting to hide from Him in fear. John’s words gently bid me to look up and see the love God the Father has lavished upon me. I imagine Him kneeling down, lifting my chin to say:
“So now, little [child], remain in him so that when he appears [you] may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you know this as well: Everyone who does what is right has been born of him” (1John 2:28–29).
How do we know we’re His? Because of the kind of love God offers. Though we were once sinners, separated from the Father, He reaches toward us with paternal love. We have assurance of God’s love because He does not treat us like strangers. He treats us like family. And not the way you treat a distant cousin, awkwardly kept at arm’s length. No, God lavishes love upon us. He responds to us like a perfect Father should.
The wonder of this truth may still be hard to grasp, but it doesn’t change the facts. God is the Father “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV). And we are His beloved daughters.