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[1] See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

(1 John 3:1)

He sheepishly walked off the bus, avoiding eye-contact with all the adults in the vicinity. From there he proceeded to run to the trash can, throwing away the note from his teacher. When Kelly and I asked him what he was doing, Ethan (my oldest son) denied it all. He lied. It was the first time we’d caught him in the act. He was trying to avoid the punishment that was going to come from getting in trouble at school. I knew exactly what he was doing, I knew because I’d done the same things on a number of occasions to my parents. As a father, I had two choices. I could forgive him, or I could hold the offense against him. It was an easy decision – one that I made based on the way I felt about my son, not one based on how I felt about what he’d done. As a father, I forgave my son the moment I knew he was lying to me because I love him. I forgave him before he asked for forgiveness. I forgave him because I love him, not so that I could love him.

One of the reasons the Scriptures use the imagery of a ‘father’ when describing God, is so that we can understand the extent and passion of his love. In the same way that earthly fathers are called to love their kids, God loves his kids. The story Jesus tells in Luke 15 coincides with the heart of the father we see all throughout the scriptures. When he sees his son coming home, he runs to him and embraces him before he can get his full confession out of his mouth (Luke 15:20). This is the nature of our God. This nature was most clearly on display while Jesus hung on the cross. Jesus cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus was not asking the father to do something that was contrary to his character – he was asking him to act consistently with who he is and with his heart for his creation. God offers forgiveness even to people who have no clue what their offense is – even to those who are crucifying him. These people didn’t confess, they didn’t ask for forgiveness, and Jesus asked his father to forgive them. He forgave the people who are killing him; not so that he could love them, but because he did love them.

One of the hardest truths in the universe to come to terms with is that we are loved by the King of the cosmos. 1 John 3:1 states this truth clearly, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” God doesn’t just love us, he ‘lavishes’ love down on us. It’s a jealous, passionate, life-giving love. It’s because of that love that he embraces us and kisses us – even in the midst of our mess, and our lies, and our rebellion. And just like I did with my son, and my dad did with me, and the father did with the people crucifying his son – he embraces us and forgives us. Think for a moment today: who are the people who have embraced you when you were at your lowest point? Maybe it was a friend or a parent or a mentor. Reach out to them and let them know how big of a difference that made in your life [/vc_column_text][us_separator height=”25px” size=”custom”][vc_column_text]

By Ryan Paulson

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