“What do you most want to hear from God?”
I’ve asked that question to many people. The overwhelming answer is,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Very few say,
“This is my beloved son/daughter in whom I am well pleased.”
“Well done, good and faithful servant” comes from a parable Jesus tells of a master who leaves three servants with various amounts of money to invest. It’s more about the last worker’s view of his relationship with his master than the promise of “doubling of fortune and opportunity” for faithfulness in little things.
God speaks “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” over Jesus as John baptizes him into public ministry. Many think it heresy to insert their names into that affirmation.
But that’s the audacity of the gospel.
We’re broken and can’t please God, but because Jesus absorbed all God’s wrath and disappointment, our relationship with the Father is restored. Because of Jesus’ “well done,” God is well pleased with us. Through faith, we’re his beloved adopted sons and daughters forever.
Henri Nouwen says our “belovedness” is our primary identity and God makes that affirmation over our lives before we “do” anything but believe.
Nouwen reflects, “Who am I? I am the beloved. That's the voice Jesus heard when he came out of the Jordan River: ‘You are my beloved; on you my favor rests.’ And Jesus says to you and to me that we are loved as he is loved. Like Jesus in the wilderness, we too hear many loud voices challenging us to ‘prove that you are the beloved, that you’re worth something.’ And we need to respond as Jesus did to Satan’s temptation, ‘No, I don't have to prove anything. I am already the beloved.’”
It’s hard to believe we’re beloved without doing something to earn it. Americans prize getting ahead by competence and hard work, not by nepotism. But the gospel says we’re rewarded solely by who we know and believe.
“Well done, good and faithful servant” emphasizes your effort. The pressure is on. You live knowing you can be promoted, demoted or fired. And, if not rewarded according to your own doubling formula, you’re tempted to become bitter and disappointed with God.
If you live under the “well pleased beloved daughter/son” banner, the focus is on your position, not your performance. You live in a secure place where your relationship and inheritance will not change. Jesus Christ took all the pressure, gets all the credit, and you receive all the grace and benefits.
How do you know which well you’re drinking from?
How you respond to personal failure and exposure is the best test. Say you scream at your five year old as your spouse comes through the door.
The “Well-Done” reaction revolves around the “blame, shame or rename” game.
Blame:If you were home more I could handle this child. He never listens to me. You defend and justify yourself. You’re the powerless victim.
Shame:I am the worst mother/father. Something is wrong with me. You despair and condemn yourself. You’re defective and can’t change.
Rename: So much for parent of the year. I wasn’t meant for this. You rename your desires and dismiss them as unimportant or unachievable. You detach yourself from what you want and deny who you’re called to be.
But if you believe you’re beloved before anything you do or don’t do, and that His unconditional love and pleasure aren’t changed by your actions, you can face your sins and mess-ups without being undone. You can look at the situation with clarity. I lost my temper and yelled at my child. But I long to be a good parent and love my child well and I won’t give up.
You still face the same consequences but in the company of your Father. You can repent and say, “I blew it and I’m sorry” and deal with it without the shame or blame hangover. You grieve because you caused pain but you’re still the beloved. You can run to God, dirty and disappointed in yourself, knowing that He will embrace you just as the father embraced the prodigal.
I want to live with no fear of being fired. My Father is well pleased and nothing will change that because I am his beloved daughter.
God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! Romans 8:16-17a The Message
What do you most want to hear from God? Please comment below.