Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the main questions that philosophy seeks to answer is, “Where do you come from?” God has been talking to me about my origins these past two weeks and it really tied a lot of things together for me. I’m sure philosophy has some really interesting answers but here’s mine.

The four Gospels were written by four very different men. If you’ve peaked at the first Gospel, Matthew, you’re probably wondered what the deal is with all the “begats”. Well, from what I know about the culture of the day, your origins were very important. They determined what your station in life was and who would listen to you. Both Matthew and Luke, the 3rd Gospel, give a genealogy of Jesus Christ. However, they are different.

Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham. Matthew wanted people to know that Jesus was a Jew and also heir to the throne. Luke, who was a doctor, traced Jesus’ lineage back aaaaallllll the way back to Adam. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was a human man, the Son of Man. It is believed that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s family history because Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus.

What about Mark, the 2nd Gospel? He wanted people to see the suffering servant side of Jesus. Nobody cares about the family history of a servant. So Mark doesn’t bother with a genealogy.

Then that leaves John, the 4th Gospel. At first glance, you’d think that he left out a genealogy as well. You see, John wanted people to know that Jesus was the son of God. Where does God have his origin? In God! Now read the first couple verses:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:1‭-‬4, emphasis added

John’s genealogy is pretty simple. Jesus came from God. But what else came from God, according to John? We did!!!

If you think you’re a result of your parent’s decision on prom night, you are very mistaken. You’re a result of the conscious direction and will of God. God does not make accidents. You may have even been conceived out of rape but your true origin is in Jesus Christ. That’s far, far greater news.

I was talking with a friend the other day. He’s feeling a lot of condemnation from his family. He’s trying to better himself but his family only sees and remembers the bad. I think sometimes we have to choose which family we’ll follow. Not all the time but sometimes. That doesn’t mean disowning them*, cursing them, or holding onto unforgiveness, it simply means choosing a different path than they showed you.

*Sometimes, going “no-contact” is the only sane and healthy choice with an extremely narcissistic family or family member. It’s never easy so really pray about this option before going through with it. God will give you the grace to handle it.

There’s a proverb that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

This is all fine and good if your parents or guardians started you off on the right path. A lot of us, however, were not and now we’re seemingly stuck on a dead end road. It is a scientific fact that that our brains grow more in the first few years of life than the rest of our life combined. This is when we need to recognize our origin and possibly switch paths. And God gives us Grace to do it through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

Again, this is not about disowning family or breaking up families. Far from it! He’s calling us to or true origin. Whose heritage will you identify with? Whose heritage will you manifest? Are you descended from your natural father and mother? Or are you descended from Jesus? Jesus was all about his father in heaven. I’ve posted on this before. When Jesus was tempted, he never said he couldn’t do those things. He refused to do them because His Father had not requested it. The temptation wasn’t all the kingdoms of the world at his disposal, they’re already HIS!!! The temptation of Jesus Christ was to convince Him to do something independent of His Father in Heaven!!!

Just as you have DNA from your parents, you have inherited spiritual DNA from your Heavenly Father. And you are the spitting image of Him!!!! When the Father looks at you, he sees Jesus. You might need a bit of a polish now and then but He sees Himself.

Here’s the issue: Nobody has a problem believing Adam gave sin to all but hardly anyone believes Jesus brought holiness and righteousness to all. Sure, you may have inherited a disease from your parents or a bad personality trait or a predilection to addiction. It’s easy to see what you’ve inherited from your natural family. Almost no one wants to see what they have inherited from their spiritual family.

It’s like that scene in Ever After. Danielle had been secretly meeting Prince Henry for romantic rendezvous’. She had been using her mother’s name because her mother was a noble. Danielle makes it to the ball, only for her stepmother to out her as a servant in front of the prince. Her stepmother literally rips her wings off. Prince Henry, being human, is understandably upset. The same happens in Heaven. Satan continually tries to “out” us as fake. “She’s not really yours. She’s been my servant for 20/30/40 years.” Jesus, however, knows the truth. He says, “No, you’re wrong. She’s been my child since before the beginning of time. She may have glanced your way a time or two but she’s mine.”

So what we need to do is change our identity. In Genesis 17, God makes his covenant with Abram.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”  Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:1‭-‬5, emphasis added

At first, it seems God is giving an impossible command. Walk before me and be blameless. But what happens after that? Abram gets an identity change! He’s no longer Abram but Abraham. Sarai is now Sarah. Both their names get an extra “ha” like a breath of air or even laughter. Air or laughter is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They now have a name that reflects their origin in God. Now the command is not so impossible. If God is faithful and blameless, then so are we!!!

Such. Good. News!!!!!

The Prodigal Son

Oh how typical…  A Christian writing about the prodigal son.  Well, hopefully, this is a new perspective on the old parable.

I wrote a couple months ago about attaining Heaven without relationship in a post about the Twilight Zone.  In a particular episode, an old man won’t be separated from his dog even in the afterlife because the dog saved his life once.  He even appears to give up a chance at entering Heaven only to find that he was being tricked into entering Hell and that Heaven was up the road a ways.  It was the old man’s relationship with his dog that saved him from Hell.  John 17:3 echoes this, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”  True Heaven comes from our relationship with Jesus Christ.  The Kingdom of God was never meant to be a stationary thing.  It was meant to move in and through us.  It is not “up there” or “over there”.  It is right here.  Think of it this way, if Heaven is where we go when we die then who/what is our savior?  In that case, death becomes our salvation.  Yuck!  No, Heaven is revealed as we walk with Jesus.

I said before that in modern Christianity, we sell out Jesus to get Heaven.  We sell him as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.  I referenced Satan’s temptation of Christ.  Satan was trying to get Jesus to attain Heaven outside the will of His Father.  But Jesus doesn’t do anything apart from the Father so Satan was denied.

So what does this have to do with the famous prodigal son?

Well, first, we need to back up and look at all the players in the story.  There is a father and two sons.  The father owns a large estate with many servants who are well-fed and cared for.  While the focus of the story appears to be the younger brother who squanders the family fortune, I believe both sons are in a precarious position.  They both exploit their relationship with their father.  Pretty bold statement, right?  Don’t we always think a little higher of the older brother for sticking around?  I used to.  Let’s examine a little closer.

The younger son is the one we’re familiar with.  He takes his part of the family fortune and runs away.  His actions basically say to his father, “I wish you were dead.”  This is much like a lot of modern Christianity as I spelled out above.  “Let Jesus die so we can have our inheritance.”  The younger son wants the benefits of being a son without actually being one. But the older son is not better. He receives his double portion but what does he do? He goes to live with the slaves. He squanders his fortune in a different way. He does it by pretending he doesn’t have one. There are two extremes in Christianity: license and legalism. The brothers play out these extremes to a tee. License gets its inheritance and goes wild. Legalism thinks he has to work for every cent that’s been freely given to him. License doesn’t see the father. Legalism doesn’t see the inheritance. Both lack relationship and communication. It’s all about getting Heaven without relationship.

So why is the younger brother more celebrated then? Because he began to see that it was his relationship with his father that really mattered. As soon as he made this headchange, the father was running to greet him. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Heaven without relationship will only get you so far.  If we only strive for the inheritance, we are missing out.  We will become strung out, stressed, empty.  It is only through a continuous relationship with the father that we are tapped into an endless supply.

I gave a word in church about a month or so ago.  It was about the reasons we come to Christ.  In earthly relationships, we are often attracted to what the other party can do for us.  It’s a sad part of human nature.  It doesn’t happen all the time but a lot of the time.  It is no different when we come to Christ.  We are often first attracted to what He can do for us.  A lot of us stop ourselves from going to God because we recognize this in ourselves.  A lot of us get in trouble and don’t think we can go to God because the only reason we’re doing so is that we’re in trouble.  I believe this is erroneous.  Any reason to go to God is a good reason.  The key phrase I said in church that day was, “Just come and Jesus will sort it all out later.”  The prodigal son in the story just wanted a place to sleep and eat.  What a selfish thing!  But it is all the father in the story needed to go running to the son.

I’ve talked a lot about Heaven without relationship.  That doesn’t mean if you go looking for Heaven then you won’t find Jesus.  You will always find Jesus this way.  You can’t help but find Jesus this way.  You may not want this person named Jesus but you want out of trouble, you want peace, you want stability.  Search for those things and you will inevitably end up finding Jesus.  Your search for a miracle will ultimately end up at the feet of Jesus.

I haven’t said much about the older brother.  I believe there is a similar celebration waiting for him.  When the younger brother came back, he wanted to be put with the slaves, where his brother was.  They really were brothers, I guess.  The father wanted sons, not slaves.  The older claims he was never given the chance to celebrate but it was only through his ignorance.  The father says, “You are always with me and everything I have is yours.”  Don’t be this person! If you have put yourself with the slaves, come out of there!  Our place is with the Father.  Our celebration is ongoing.  We can celebrate whenever because everything He has is ours.

Thankfully, our walk with God is not a choice between license and legalism.  Both leave us stressed, strung out, and empty.  We must transcend this dichotomy.  Christ died for our freedom.  We are free from sin (license).  We are also free from performing for a supposedly disinterested Father (legalism).  We are free to pursue Him even as He pursues us.  Before Christ, we were powerless to turn to Him.  We fell to license or legalism.  Now, we are free to be one with Him.