How do you mainly identify with God? As a
(a) servant of God,
(b) a friend of God, or
(c) a son of God?
When Samuel Mathew posed this question on his Facebook page yesterday, I was so surprised at the results, that I decided to poll E2R readers on E2R’s FB page. (Before you read on, answer the question for yourself. How do you primarily relate to God? As a servant, a friend or a son?)
So far about 30 people have responded to the FB polls. To my astonishment, less than half picked (c) “son of God.” And so, once again, Facebook has provided a brilliant answer to one of the world’s most pressing questions:
Why is the world still a mess, even though Jesus did everything He came to do, 2000 years ago?
The problem may not be what you think. It’s not legalism, condemnation, or even sin. The root cause of the problem is that the majority of people do not identify with God as their Father. They relate to Him as something other than sons. That is, they have an orphan spirit. Those outside the church are like the prodigal son, while many of those inside the church are like the elder brother. Neither brother received their father’s love. Both trusted in their own labor and had little confidence in the grace and provision of their loving father.
There may be only two kinds of people in the world: sons and orphans. Which are you? The devil’s plan is to get you confused about your identity. He will sow doubt by asking, “if you are the Son of God…” (Mt 4:3). To the degree that you are uncertain about your sonship, to that degree you have an orphan spirit.
I will probably write more about this some other time, but the FB polls have fired me up. I couldn’t sleep for thinking about it. So many of you are evidently victims of identity theft! I can’t stay silent while the devil runs off with your birth certificates, so below are 10 reasons why (c) is the best response to the question above. Even if you serve a God who is your best friend, you are first and foremost a son of God. And this applies equally to the ladies, for we are all one in Christ (Gal 3:28).
(1) The Holy Spirit says so. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’” (Rms 8:15).
(2) Do you really need more reasons? Come on now! Paul thought no. 1 above was such an important truth that he said it twice. “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, ‘Papa! Father!’” (Gal 4:6, MSG). God Himself calls you son. (You wouldn’t want to call God a liar now would you?) He is the one who makes it possible for you to call Him Papa!
(3) The Bible says so – in many places (see Gal 3:26, Rms 8:14, Heb 12:7, 1 Jn 3:1 for starters).
(4) The Old Testament prophets longed for the day when God’s people would be called “sons of God” (Hos 1:10). They thought it applied to the Jews, but Paul says it includes “even us whom He also called” (Rms 9:23). Jesus came to reveal the Father (Mt 11:27). This is what makes the new covenant new. Sonship – not servanthood, not friendship – is the pinnacle of redemption. Not even Adam and Eve were identified as sons! Because of Jesus we have come closer to God than when we started out in the Garden. How awesome is that?!
(5) We are to be servant-hearted, not servant-minded. Someone with an orphan spirit readily identifies themselves as a servant of God. It sounds noble, but it insults the cross and the Spirit of grace. Servants work for wages but we live under grace and there are no wages under grace. Sons are shareholders, not employees. We don’t work because we have to, but because we are wholly invested in the success of the family-business.
(6) A servant doesn’t know his master’s will, has to be told what to do, and then relates to God on the basis of what he does. If he does good, he thinks God loves him more. How sad, how utterly tragic to be enslaved to such a lie. A mature son is nothing like that. He has the mind of Christ (1 Co 2:16), is clothed with His righteousness (Is 61:10), and relates on the basis of the Father’s love first shown to him (1 Jn 4:19). A servant waits on God. A son does what he sees His Father doing (Jn 5:19).
(7) Servants suffer from performance-anxiety. Even friends may worry thinking they have to pound on doors in the middle of the night merely to borrow something (Lk 11:5). But sons need not worry, for our “heavenly Father knows we need all these things” (Mt 6:32). Our Father – not our master nor our friend – delights to give good gifts to those who ask Him (Mt 7:11). You’re not on the outside looking in. You’re warm and secure in bed with your Papa (see Lk 11:7).
(8) True, Abraham was a friend of God (Is 41:8) and we are revealed to be friends when we do what Jesus says (Jn 15:14). This is a good thing and something to treasure. But sonship is better by far! Sons have “full rights” of access that friends lack (Gal 4:5). Sons have an expectation of intimacy that servants and friends do not enjoy. My kids are with me 24/7 (it’s the school holidays). In contrast, I only see and enjoy my friends occasionally. Wouldn’t you rather walk with God enjoying His presence continuously? As a son you have full rights to do so!
(9) Sons are heirs. I have an inheritance and it’s the entire planet (Rms 4:13). All the cattle on all the hills and all the blessings of Abraham are ours, paid for with Jesus’ blood. Indeed, we are co-heirs with Christ (Rm 8:17). Our share is no less than Christ’s!
(10) What will it take to fix this broken, poisoned planet? A revelation of the sons of God (Rms 8:19)! In the garden God gave us a planet to keep. We lost it, Jesus got it back, yet we still act like it belongs to the devil. It is OURS! “The earth he has given to man” (Ps 115:16). Jesus paid a high price to redeem this planet for us. Creation is not waiting for the church to rise up. Neither is creation waiting for God’s servants or His friends to rise up. Instead, creation waits for the mature sons of God to rise up and say with authority “this is my planet; hands off devil!”
If you’re still having trouble wrapping your head around this, look to Jesus. Did Jesus describe God as His (a) Master, (b) Friend, or (c) Father? That’s an easy question. Under the obsolete law covenant, God was Master. Under the Abrahamic covenant, God is our Friend. But under the new covenant in Jesus’ blood, God relates to us as our Father!
And don’t water this down by saying that God is “all of the above.” He’s no more “all of the above” than you are “all of the above” to your own children. My kids will serve many employers and have many friends, but they will only have one earthly father and that’s me. I am thrilled beyond words to be identified as my children’s father because it is my unique privilege. I hope they will be equally thrilled to be identified as my children. It makes my heart soar when they call me Papa. I’m less thrilled when they call me “your majesty.”
He is your Father and my Father! Yes I serve Him and yes He is my closest friend. But service and friendship stem from my secure position as His adopted son. There’s nothing I enjoy more than being with Him, knowing Him, walking with Him and talking with Him. Every day with Him is an adventure!
When you have a revelation of your sonship, it will change the way you pray. You will pray for the smallest things, because if it matters to you it matters to Him. But you will also ask Him for big things, because God has promised you the nations. You won’t hold back like a waiter or a friend – you’ll come running in to Papa knowing that He loves to give good gifts to His children.
Paul prayed, and so do I…
“…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph 1:18-19)