What Does Our Father Want From Us?

We want to be servants, acting on behalf of  the Father who sent Jesus to us.  But how do we know what the Father wants us to do?  How do we receive his guidance?

Jesus seemed to say that we can come to know the Father in the same face-to-face, moment-by-moment way that he himself knew him.  Yet, for many of us, the Father seems like an abstract idea, most of the time.  We don’t receive visions and prophecies. We don’t see the Father showing us “what he himself is doing.” We may imagine his love encircling us, but we don’t see an obvious fulfillment of that oneness in our real-life experiences.

We want to know the Father the way Jesus did!  Is such a thing possible?  Is there anything we can do to help bring it about?

The gospels record much that Jesus said about the Father, to many different people. Sometimes he spoke of the Father to huge crowds, sometimes to unbelieving critics.  We need to zero in on the words he said to his own disciples who already believed in the Father and were trying to obey him.  What did Jesus tell his closest followers about how they should interact with the Father? More than a dozen sayings fall into this category and they are easy to identify because they are set apart by Jesus’ use of a particular phrase.  Instead of referring to “the Father” or “my Father”,  in these lessons to his own followers, Jesus spoke of “your Father.”

Most of these sayings can be found in a single sermon which is recorded in the sixth chapter of Matthew.  The sermon’s message is echoed by individual “your Father” sayings scattered in Luke and Mark and the later parts of Matthew.  When these sayings are considered as a group, four distinct themes emerge:

INTEGRITY –  There is no possibility of deceiving the Father about anything.  Absolute honesty in dealing with him is simple common sense.

TRUST – We need to understand that everything that really matters is safe in our Father’s hands.  As long as we stay close to Him, nothing can do us permanent harm.

REPENTENCE – The Father’s children draw forgiveness from him just as constantly as they draw breath.  The total honesty of the relationship provokes a continual awareness of our failings.  Our only hope is to receive from the Father all the worth and acceptance that we are incapable of earning for ourselves.  It is this awareness of our own deficiency that enables us to forgive others.

FORGIVENESS – We cannot have communion with the Father while harboring resentment against our brothers and sisters.  Forgiveness is a life-or-death issue.  If we do not forgive, we cannot receive forgiveness.

Jesus’ words to his disciples provide a roadmap for today’s believers. If we follow it well, it can guide us into an intimate, interactive relationship with the One who is also our Father.  The four attitudes of integrity, trust, repentence and forgiveness are essential to such a relationship.  If we can develop those attitudes within ourselves (or, rather, allow God to develop them within us), our eyes will be opened to see the Father’s hand at work in our lives and our ears will be enabled to hear his voice. Read next section…