September 30, 2021
The classic 1994 animated movie The Lion King was about how a Swahili lion, Simba, succeeded his father, Mufasa. His father was betrayed and murdered by his own brother, Scar, so Scar could become king.
In one of the most iconic scenes from this movie, Mufasa shows up as a spirit and gives the older yet confused and fearful Simba advice that would turn his life around: “Remember who you are.” Simba ran away from his kingly calling and responsibilities of leading his people, and this turned his life around.
Aside from how the famous line was delivered in the movie, what made this line classic and relevant even after decades is the issue that resonates with it through every generation: Fatherlessness.
Many of the issues we are facing today are, in one way or another, related to fatherlessness. And the more we look at it, the more we realize that fatherlessness is not just about not having a biological father or not having a father figure in your life. It is also about not receiving the warmth that comes from the love and affirmation of a father.
“Remember who you are” is our new series that speaks directly and intimately to us because deep inside, we have wounds that may be invisible to the naked eye but are very evident in our lives. These wounds are the ones caused by fatherlessness, and they can only be healed by our perfect Father in heaven.
What are some of the solid biblical truths that will help us remember who we are and grow deeper in our relationship with God as our perfect Heavenly Father?
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
We receive the spirit of sonship the moment we put our faith in Christ and trust Him as our Lord and Savior for the rest of our lives. The Holy Spirit works in and through us so that we may conform to the image of Jesus because He is the epitome of a perfect and obedient son of God.
The blessings of sonship include being led by God Himself as His children and not as slaves. This means that we can relate with God the way Jesus relates with Him. For most of us, our relationship with our earthly fathers is marked with the fear of being punished and disowned rather than love and honor. This draws us away from our fathers.
However, the spirit of sonship produces a desire to draw closer to our heavenly Father that is expressed in two words: Abba! Father! These words convey intimacy, dependence, tenderness, and freedom from anxiety or fear. How can we resist such a loving invitation from our heavenly Father?
Another spiritual blessing of this truth is that our identity as sons and daughters of God is not based on changing opinions of anyone, including ourselves. We do not and cannot lose our sonship in Christ because the Holy Spirit is our witness. The Holy Spirit serves us as our witness by working out His spiritual fruit in us (Galatians 5:22–23) and providing the spiritual power to become witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8).
“For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
One of the most prominent characteristics of a good and loving father is seen in how he provides for his children. We honor fathers who work hard and give their best for their children. However, the truth is not everyone was blessed to have a father who is eager to provide. Even if you have or you don’t have the privilege of having a father who provides, we should all look unto our heavenly Father to provide for our needs. He is the ultimate source of provision.
Our heavenly Father provides for us in ways that we are not aware of and couldn’t imagine. Sometimes, He uses someone else as a channel to provide for us. But sometimes, He uses His very own hands to meet our needs.
Jesus taught about our heavenly Father’s heart when it comes to providing for us. He used the Gentiles as an example of how not to pray and ask for provision. This is because they do not know God and they believe that the length of their prayers would mean a higher chance that they would be answered. This is not the case, because our heavenly Father knows what we need even before we ask.
So why ask and how should we ask?
As we remember that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we realize that our greatest desire should not be for material things, but rather Him and His kingdom.
We know that the most noble desires of sons and daughters is not the riches of their father but their relationship with him. In the same way, when we desire to deepen our relationship with our heavenly Father, we see that all other desires are being fulfilled as well.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Because of sin, we are limited in our ability to trust God not just in times of difficulty, but most especially in times of pain. We know that God is loving and that His love is like no other, but when He expresses it in ways that we do understand or do not agree with, we get confused or, worse, we rebel and give up on the idea that He loves us.
This is similar to the feeling of the church that the author of Hebrews was writing to. They wanted to give up and go back to their old lives after going through much pain and persecutions because of their faith in Jesus. Instead of giving them the usual encouragement or pep talk that they would receive from a friend, he reminded them of the heavenly Father’s heart for them: “I am disciplining you because you are My children and I love you.”
Sometimes, God allows us to go through pain, hardships, and suffering because trials have a way of refining our faith and character. We become more like Him. For Him, holiness is not just about making sure that our actions are perfect, but also having our deepest desires be satisfied by Him.
For our heavenly Father, discipline is the firm and tender expression of His exclusive love for His children.
“And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.”
We can all relate to the story of the prodigal son because we know, one way or another, we have dishonored, insulted, and rebelled against God despite His great love for us. We have run away from God either out of ignorance or rebellion because we want to live our lives the way we want to. But we know perfectly well that the more we run away from Him, the more we lose our way.
God’s heart is to restore us back to Him. And we see this in that very parable. The father, who represents our heavenly Father, cuts the prepared speech of the prodigal son about becoming a slave because of his foolish and sinful actions (Luke 15:21–22). Instead, the father commanded his servants to give his son a robe, shoes, and a ring. This symbolized the reinstatement and restoration of being his father’s son. Not to mention the fattened calf that meant the father’s eager expectation of his son’s return.
But the story also had another punchline in the end when the older brother felt like he received a lesser kind of love from his father, because His father did not have any parties or celebrations for his loyalty and obedience. He, too, was a prodigal son in need of the Father’s great love.
Whether you are the prodigal son who ran away or the older brother who forgot that he had everything he needed and wanted in God, you are never too broken for God’s grace. No one is too far from the reach of God’s grace.