Many of us are familiar with the two diagnostic questions from Evangelism Explosion. The first is to ask, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, do you know for certain that he would take you into heaven?” The second question is similar: “If you were to stand before God tonight and he were to say to you, ‘Why should I take you into my heaven?’ What would you say?” The first question tells us if there is assurance of salvation in a person’s life. The second tells us the grounds of that assurance.
These are helpful questions, and I have used them frequently. But I believe there are two additional questions you ought to ask yourself from time to time. The first one is, “What does God think of you right now?” As Jesus is ruling in heaven, and as he turns his attention from the course of the planets and conducting the world, and he looks at your life, what does he think of you at this moment? What is his attitude toward you? We could even ask: what is the expression on his face as he contemplates you and your life?
The second question is like it: “What can you do to change God’s opinion of you?” The truth of the matter is that unless you believe that Christ has done enough for you, it is going to be very difficult for you to answer these questions in an emotionally honest way.
As Christians, we know that God is our Father. That’s a wonderful truth. But if I were to try and suppose what the real character of God is by looking at the life of most Christians, I’ve got to admit, my opinion of him as a Father would be pretty awful.
Looking at the lives of some Christians, I’d conclude that God is a Father who is distant, harsh, and never to be pleased. For others who have wrong kinds of fears related to God, I’d conclude he’s downright abusive.
As a pastor, when I go into a home, I pay attention to the way members of the family interact with each other. You can learn a lot about a family that way. I know what it’s like to see children who are frightened when their father comes home, and I wonder what goes on in that house.
Similarly, I often think about people who come into our houses of worship, our churches. I think about how they hear what our lives say, even more than our mouths, and they must wonder what kind of God it is that we serve. They might conclude our Father must be so far away, so difficult to please – so promising of heaven, yet so distant in this world.
What do our lives say about the God we serve? Do our lives reflect the good news that in Christ we have been blessed “with every spiritual blessing,” that in love God the Father “predestined us for adoption as sons” (Ephesians 1:3-5)?
Our God welcomes us with open arms and calls us his own. As John says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is who we are!” This is the God we serve.
This post is adapted from Message 3 of the Sonship talks.
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