“You pray to God and call him Father, and he judges each person’s work equally. So while you are here on earth, you should live with respect for God.” –1 Peter 1:17, NCV
It’s interesting to me that Peter refers to God as the Father in this verse, yet speaks of Him as someone for whom we work. In fact, it almost sounds as if God is the landowner and we are His sharecroppers. How does Peter reconcile the two possible relationships–one close and intimate, the other seemingly cold and distant? The answer has everything to do with Peter’s audience: maturing Christians, children God has come to require more from.
Consider this: When children are little, their parents cuddle and carry them. They don’t go to school. Their only responsibility is play, then pick up their toys and help in simple ways. They need lots of love and acceptance, so their parents give this generously without expecting much in return.
As children grow older, though, parents begin to expect more. The children attend school and do their homework. They have regular chores. Their parents still express love, but in different ways: praise or a pat on the back instead of cuddling during storytime or prayer. As children grow up, they appreciate being treated their age; they welcome parental respect and recognition of their maturity.
Our growing relationship with God is similar. We are His children, but we are also part of His kingdom. He has tasks for each of us based on our readiness for them. He expects us to do our best out of reverence (and love) for Him. If we don’t, we have His discipline to fear. Because He loves us, He will do what it takes to help the children He’s raising mature.
What tasks has God given you? Accept them, thankfully, as the privileges they are. God knows you’re ready to handle whatever He has sent your way (with His help and guidance, of course–He will never leave you to work alone). Decide to do your jobs well, and you will honor your Father as you do.
I don’t want to be the baby You carry, Father. Help me grow into a child who can successfully contribute to the needs of Your kingdom with love and gratitude. Amen.