The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? – Malachi 1:6a-b
The LORD spoke to Israel and Judah through the prophet Malachi. The message spoke to the people about whether or not they really knew God as their heavenly Father or were just going through the motions, “Fake it until you make it.” God’s concern regarded the fact that the people at this point in history had failed to follow his instructions regarding the types of animals he detailed as being acceptable for sacrifice. The people had become accustomed to offering sick, lame, or blemished animals whereas The LORD required they be perfect and without defect. Their love of God was more in words than from the heart.
It was not all that long ago that someone, once close to me, said that God woke this person up in the middle of the night out of a deep sleep and uttered the words that I didn’t know God as my Father. When I received this message, the words sank deep into my heart and made me realize how distant I was from God, where before I thought that I had known God as my Father and not just as Lord, Savior, and Master.
The words of Jesus began to ring throughout my head and spirit when he related the heart of the prodigal son upon return to his father’s house. The prodigal son had wasted all of his inheritance on wine, women, and excess. Once he’d exhausted his resources and sunk to the lowest state possible, he realized that hope still existed…at his father’s house where many servants worked for him. He thought that maybe, just maybe, his father would hire him on and allow him to earn his way back into the graces and heart of his father.
Little did the son know that the father never stopped loving his son. The father told his servants, upon learning of his son’s return, to prepare a great feast in the son’s honor and to gather the items that represented his status, the robe and ring to be presented to his son. The father lavished his love upon his son, who was once dead and now was alive! The son never expected to be in the caring arms of his father again as a son but merely a worker like those that faithfully served his father in their work.
Well, now enters this writer. For the longest time, I felt as did the prodigal son. There were issues in my life that I felt kept me away from God and created a distance in our personal Father-son relationship. As did the prodigal son, so I, too, felt that I was unworthy to be known as a son of God and would rather be affiliated with Him as a servant. The longer I allowed this situation to develop, the further and colder the relationship became. I no longer looked to God as my Father but as my Master, one from whom orders were given and received and then carried out. The love of the Father had been replaced by commands a return to performance-driven existence rather than a presence-driven existence perpetuated by a mutual love for each of us.
God’s questioning of his children regarding their relationship with him and how they’d abandoned him through complacency and treachery showed me just how much God desires his children’s love and not their sacrifice or compulsory obedience to his commands. His word states that he desires mercy not sacrifice, to do justice, and to walk humbly before him not a life of dos and don’ts. God wants us to pursue him out of love, for even the greatest command is to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies-everything within us. I had lost that sense of belonging to the family of God, but God reminded me that children are forever as opposed to servants, who are hired hands that can and will quit in the face of adversity.
I am a child of the living God. He chose me and called me and anointed me to be his own! He made me a physical part of his very being, for in Jesus, the very expression of God’s glory, I live, move, and have my being! I will know the LORD as my Father, not just as Savior or Master. Yes, these last two roles play a significant part in the overall relationship, but the Father-child portion is the greatest. It is unto the family that the patriarch reveals his plans and desires. The children are the ones who receive the inheritance of the Father not the hired hands. God is more than just a Redeemer, but he is Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Almighty God, AND EVERLASTING FATHER!
Father, take me into the depths of your love and teach me the truth of being your son, not just your servant. I want to know your very heart and mind. Show me the things that make us one in each other. For if Jesus and you are one and I am one in Jesus, then I am one with you also. You are Jesus’ Father and mine also. Teach me how to love you with all that I am. I desire to know you more intimately than anyone else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.