I’ve been asked recently if I could sum up my role as a Church leader alongside my faith – in a sentence. At first it seemed an almost impossible task, and to be honest, it probably is, but as I walked home after that chat, one thought started to dawn on me…

“If we could just get how The Father can ONLY love us… then this faith relationship would keep working”

As I have continued to ponder this, I can see how important it is. The problem we have is often our image of what a Father is, or maybe more accurately of what a perfect Father could be. But if we could understand that, how we would respond to such a wonderful person? Some of us have been blessed with great Dad’s, others of us have not had such a blessing. But none of us have experienced an earthly perfect Father.

What would such a parent be like?

Firstly they would never harm you, or suggest you do anything that might bring you harm. They would help you grow up and learn about the world and how to navigate life. They would always be there to encourage and also to raise an eyebrow when we don’t quite follow their advice. Of course as a perfect parent, their advice would always be perfect.

In that area of us not following their advice, what if we were to distinctly choose an alternative path? Well, the perfect parent releases us to try things our way. If we move far away from them, they don’t stop loving us, but they miss us terribly. If they discover what we do, we know we would feel ashamed and that they would be disappointed and maybe even frustrated.

However, if we came back to them, our perfect parent would just want to hold us and be thrilled that we have decided they are the safe refuge we want and that we know their advice is far better than our own thinking. We might want to apologise, but it probably wouldn’t be necessary – they would know how we felt. (The primary tale of the Parable of the Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32 )

In fact, by our recognition of their love for us and accepting their wisdom and guidance, we show them how much we love them back – which is where this verse became real for me…

1 John 5:3

“For our love for God means that we obey his commands.”

I recall a time when I had heard a sermon on this verse that linked obedience with love. It hadn’t sunk in. But sometime later, on a hot day while I was out working, I sought out a cool church to sit in and found myself re-reading these verses – but by now I was a parent.

My little guy would only have been 2 or so years of age, and like every toddler was exploring boundaries. It was then, as I read these verses in that Church, that the truth behind them just hit me between the eyes. As someone trying to be a good parent, I knew how it felt when my little chap followed my advice and how I worried on those occasions when he didn’t. I could imagine him older and how I would feel when those decisions would become greater and I could now imagine how God felt about the times I had followed his direction, and those when I didn’t. Our Father in Heaven must beam with pride and His love must flow beautifully when we accept His guidance because we know He loves us and that we are accepting His help because we love him. Equally, when we don’t, I could imagine again how He must feel.

That’s why I feel what may be one of the most important things for me, and what I would hope to be a large part of my ministry leading a church, is that we could be transformed as a community:

“If we could just get how The Father can ONLY love us… then this faith relationship would keep working”