Why does God bother with us? We all reject God shattering any sort of relationship with him. Nevertheless, God acted in Christ reconciling us to himself.
We cannot provide a “why” for all this. We simply say God is love and he must always be true to who he is. He is love and he loves us freely. So, he would cease to be the God he is if he was not with us and for us bringing us back home.
In his triune activity, God does a new thing that takes us by surprise and yet he does everything according to who he always is. He is holy and righteous and yet, in his Son, he calls those who are his enemies his dearly loved children. He does not compromise himself in this. Rather he shows constancy to himself as love. He is true to himself as the one who loves in freedom.
The only “Why” is Triune Love.
Why do we now bother with God? Naturally we are not interested in him. Indeed, we are opposed to him. Well, Having sent his own Son as God for us the Father sends his Spirit as God in us. It is the Spirit who opens our hearts to all that God has done for us in Christ. And in the Spirit we respond to all that God has done in Christ with simplicity of heart. We open to his free turning to us as new every morning. This responsiveness to God is a gift, not an accomplishment. God gives us all that God asks of us. Our response is, therefore, a response to grace by grace.
The only “Why” is Triune Love.
The God who reconciles us to himself is truly different from us. He is the Creator and Lord of all. He exists in majesty beyond all. He is right and true in all his ways. In contrast, we are mere creatures who are naturally opposed to God. There is a yawning abyss between God and those he wants in fellowship with himself. But in sheer grace God crosses that gulf to bring us close. We do not cross the chasm to God. He alone moves among us reconciling us to himself in Christ by His Spirit.
The God who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see emerges from the impenetrable mystery that he is to be known personally by us. We are incapable of knowing this God. We have nothing within us enabling us to relate to him. But God gives himself to us enabling us to know him. We do not even know why or how this happens to us. We certainly cannot point to anything that God found in us to draw him to us. We simply know that by God’s own free intervention we find ourselves belonging to the Father with Jesus. We know we are received by him and reclaimed as his possession. Indeed, we are hidden in him with Christ and treated as his friends and dearly loved children. All because God himself crosses the yawning chasm drawing close to bring us home.
The risen and exalted Jesus encounters us personally as the one who is our salvation. Through this living encounter with Jesus by the Spirit we come to know the true God. And as he repeatedly encounters us we know ever more deeply who God is as the mystery of Father, Son and Spirit. We do not seek to know the “real” divine being above or beyond Jesus. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1: 18). Jesus is the one “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2: 3). We, therefore, know God only in him and not above or beyond him.
Jesus is not the starting place for knowing God that we must move beyond into deeper and fuller knowing. Jesus alone is our knowledge of God: it’s unique content and entire scope. It is, therefore, only at the risk of going far away from the mystery of the Triune One that we move beyond Jesus trying to discover greater depth and height in other spheres.
We move into deeper and fuller knowing of the true God as Jesus himself encounters us again and again by the Spirit. In this living encounter he opens to us the mystery that is Father, Son and Spirit. And as he repeatedly opens himself to us in this living way we gaze on his glory and are transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory.
Before anything was even made God decided to have us in relationship with himself. He alone decided this for us. He also decided to act in Jesus by his Spirit to achieve his aim. That means all the action of God with us in Jesus is the fulfilment of his eternal decision.
We humans reject God’s intention. We want to live out of ourselves and for ourselves independent of our Creator. Since this is what we always wanted, God might easily have allowed us to perish without God. But God acts with faithfulness to his and his own purpose for himself with humanity.
When we humans rejected him did he need to go on loving us? He certainly wasn’t meeting any lack within himself. Nevertheless, in love, he would not to allow us to perish. He stuck to his original decision. In loving us this way he was faithful to himself. He was being true to who he is as love in spite of everything.
The faithfulness of God to himself is our only confidence before him. We do not put any confidence at all in our faithfulness to him. That would be very shaky. Our only assurance lies in God’s faithfulness to his original decision made actual among us in Jesus by the Spirit. With our eyes fixed on Jesus in the Spirit we rest in the constancy of God’s YES to us. And in response, we say YES to our Father through Jesus in the enabling of his Spirit
God’s Spirit unites us with Jesus, the Father’s Son. Within this union, all that belongs to Jesus becomes ours, including his relationship with the Father in the Spirit. Baxter Kruger writes,
“The gospel is not the news that we can receive an absent Jesus into our lives.
The gospel is the shocking news that Jesus has received us into his”.
Included in his life, we share in his relationship with the Father in the Spirit.
In union with Jesus we do not pray to the Father as isolated individuals trying hard to make contact with God high above. We rather pray to our Father in union with his dearly loved Son by the Spirit. As we do so we are aware that we are actually sharing in the relationship of Jesus with his Father in living union by the Spirit. We are not trying hard to keep up our own individual relationship with the Father we are rather sharing in Jesus’ relationship.
Likewise, we do not engage in mission as isolated individuals trying hard to be effective in our own mission for God. Rather, in the presence and power of the Spirit, we share in the ongoing mission of the Son serving his Father on behalf of the world. We do not stand as spectators looking passively at what Jesus is doing. Nor do we move in and do all the actions ourselves. We actually participate in what Jesus is doing. Jesus is the main mover. By the Spirit we get to share in what he is doing.
In all aspects of Christian living we share in the Son’s relationship with the Father by the Spirit.
Father and Son know each other in a unique way because they are One in a unique way. The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father. Mutually indwelling one another, Father and Son know each other with love’s own way of knowing in the love of the Spirit. Only the Father knows the Son in this way; and only the Son knows the Father in this way. So Jesus says, “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him ” (Luke 10:22).
The Son does not reveal His Father to us as one who has some truth about God to make known. He is the Father’s Son who came to us from the bosom of the Father. He is, therefore, the very unveiling of God in person. And what is revealed to us is the relating of Father and Son in the love of the Spirit. We only know the Son as Son relating to his Father in the Spirit. We only know the Father as Father relating to his Son in the Spirit. There is no other way to see God.
We know Father and Son not by standing back and looking at their relating as spectators. Amazingly, we know from the inside by sharing in the relating by the Spirit. The Spirit enables us to share in the Son’ relating to the Father so that we cry Abba Father with the Son by the Spirit of the Son within us.
In one of his prayers Jesus says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Luke 10: 21-22). Jesus is always aware of his Father as Lord of all. He always acknowledges that he was sent by his Father to do his will. He always looks at what his Father is doing so that he can move into action with his Father. In the agonising struggle of Gethsemane he offers himself to the Father in trustful obedience, “not what I want but what you want”. Then, on the cross, he is obedient to his Father unto death. And in the end, when all the kingdoms are subject to Jesus, he will hand them over to his Father, because in his eyes the Father alone is Lord of heaven and earth.
In his prayer, Jesus addresses his Father as “Lord of heaven and earth”, but just a few sentences later he says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” (Luke 10:22). The Father is Sovereign Lord of all, but he has chosen to hand everything over to his Son. Why? Because he loves his Son and is well pleased with him. In another place Jesus says, “The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands…” (John 3:35). The Father does not hand over sovereign rule to his Son because of some fixed rule. No! He has handed everything over to the Son because he loves his Son deeply.
Right now all things are in the hands not of some remote divine power who determines all things according to some fixed decree. Rather, the lowly servant Jesus, whom we know and trust, is Lord over all. He is so because he is the one that the Father loves.
I am glad to know that all things are in the hands of Jesus.
The moment that Jesus was baptised his Father sent the Spirit to remain on him. The Spirit who came to Jesus from the Father is the Spirit of joy in the Father. And so there were moments when the heart of Jesus, the Father’s Son, was full of joy in his Father through the Spirit.
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” (Luke 10. 21-22)
Jesus is the unveiling of God as the circle of love overflowing with joy in the Spirit.
The joyful relating of Father and Son in the joy of the Spirit can only be grasped as Jesus, the living word, comes to us in living encounter as the overflow of God’s joy. Yes, the joy of the Triune God spills over towards us as the Father’s Son encounters us through the Spirit opening up to us the joy of Triune life. In this encounter we do not simply stand at a distance observing the communion of joy we are included so that we share the Father’s joy in the Son and the Son’s joy in the Father by the Spirit.
The God who is love meets all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. But this does not mean that our relationship with God is entirely need-centred?
Jesus wasn’t driven by meeting his own personal needs nor the pressing needs of those around him. He was rather continually turned towards his Father looking at what his Father was doing and responding to him. In Gethsemane he struggled over the Father’s will, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” But he came through, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” He totally surrendered to his Father’s will and purpose.
Jesus gives the Spirit to us that we may live in trustful obedience to Abba as dearly loved children. The Spirit cries Abba Father within us and we cry Abba with him. That was the agonising cry that came from Jesus’ heart in Gethsemane as he struggled over doing Abba’s will. Out of that agonising struggle he emerged with firm and quiet resolve to be obedient to Abba even unto death on the cross. We now cry Abba with Jesus as those who are led by the Spirit into a life of trustful obedience to Abba.
We may slip into thinking that Jesus gives the Spirit simply to meet our personal needs. The Spirit fills me with peace and joy and makes me really happy. What we need most is for God’s Spirit to take us out of ourselves so that our lives are centred in the Father in union with his Son. In this way, all that we are flows out of loving and joyful response to the Father in the freedom of the Spirit.
God’s Spirit brings Christ to us and us to Christ in living encounter. He unites us to the Father’s Son so that we participate in the Son’s relationship with his Father. It is only by the Spirit that Father and Son become living reality to us. So the Spirit must never be forgotten! Nevertheless, it seems that the Spirit himself wants to be forgotten as the object of our devotion.
The Spirit wants to draw our attention to Christ as the object of our heart devotion. Jesus said,
“He (the Spirit) will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you”.
The Spirit glorifies Christ before the eyes of our hearts. He is actually Christ himself living within us as individual disciples of Christ and among us as the body of Christ. So within his body we gaze on the glory of Christ and are transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory. We are The organic body of Christ that lives and moves by the Spirit of Christ.
As the Spirit of Christ, he also wants to draw our attention to the Father as the object of our heart devotion.
“Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
The Spirit of the Father’s Son does not draw attention to himself, but rather to Abba. And in Abba’s presence we are aware of his Fatherly nearness to us and our dearness to him as Father.
Truly, we are not to forget the Spirit, but rather depend fully on him, but in his fullness we are full of Father and Son as the objects of our heart devotion.