A couple of weeks as I sat in for the SOMA One training intensive, Jeff Vanderstelt pointed out one simple truth that caused me to reconsider my life's motivation for ministry and mission.
and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22, ESV)
As this vibrant and passionate man exhorted us, he stressed the importance of how Jesus entered His ministry and mission with the full affirmation of His Heavenly Father. That without Jesus' full conviction that His Heavenly Father identified Jesus as His own Son, and affirmed Jesus, declaring that He is well pleased with Him. The same is with you my friends. Through Christ's work on the cross, your Heavenly Father counts you as beloved daughters, and He is already well pleased with you.
If Jesus did not know God's love during His Ministry
If Jesus didn't hold His identity as His Father's son throughout His three year ministry on earth, it would have been a disaster. If it were the case, you might find yourself reading about how Jesus struggled for a couple of months as He tried to "fit in" with the crowd and be like all the other Jews. If His identity was not grounded in being God's son, He might find yourself reading about how Jesus tried to find His identity reading through the blogs of other Jewish or Gentile men, perhaps finding a fixation with carpentry, or a desperate attempt climb up the social ladder. You might have read how Jesus felt utterly dismayed to the point of depression when hundreds of followers decided not to follow Him anymore. You might have read how Jesus put His identity in His ministry and then crumbled when it didn't go the way he thought it would or when people started rejecting Him.
If Jesus' did not understand how fully loved and pleasing He was before His Heavenly Father, you might be reading how Jesus softened what He said to the Pharisees and Sadduccees in order to not fall out of favour, how Jesus ministered to others to impress His disciples, and how Jesus burned out because He did not get the approval, love and acceptance that He thought He would have if He served and loved well.
The Consequences of my Disbelief
I've now been a part of my church plant for about four and a half years, and in that time have been through or come close to multiple burn-outs, seasons of discouragement, disappointment, despair, and depression. As I look back in retrospect to all those times, it's been so evident that a major root cause for these fall outs is complete disbelief that I am a beloved daughter of my Heavenly Father, and a disbelief that in Him, through Christ's work, He is well pleased with me.
I can see how in my disbelief that I was fully loved by God, that I would seek love and approval from my church leaders and family, and then I would be hugely disappointed that they did not love me perfectly. I can see how I was motivated by trying to gain the accolades of men and not my Heavenly Father. I can see how I would put my identity in my ministry felt completely insecure, discouraged and like a failure when I perceived that my ministry was not growing in the way I thought it ought. I can see how I desired to get out of my singleness and find a boy to love me because I just wanted someone to love me. I can see how I used people instead of loving them. I can see how I tried to use God as a stepping stone to my idol. I could go on...
How to feel loved by God? How to know I'm His daughter?
I can't say I have all the answers, but I know the One who does. We don't always feel loved by God, but it's a truth whether we choose to accept it or not. It's a truth that if you're in Christ, you are God's precious and beloved daughter.
What I can tell you is that everything you need to know is already given to your through God's Word and His Holy Spirit that lives in you. I can tell you that God would not say "no" if you asked Him through prayer to reveal these truths to the depths of your heart. Prayer is a gift to us that helps nurture our relationship with God, among many other things, so use it.
Identity and Affirmation
My friends, before you head out in your day of ministry and mission, be in prayer with your Heavenly Father. For your sake and the sake of others, ask that you would know your identity as His beloved daughter, know that you are loved and affirmed in Christ.