Parental love forms confidence in God
Confidence in God comes from experience
How long does it take for us to have confidence in God? John the Evangelist, the author of the gospel, spent four chapters building up confidence in his readers, in the audience of believers who knew him. We must have confidence in God to move forward in holiness. John knew that trust in God was essential.
Even his fellow disciples, and those who hung on his every word, needed to be reminded that God can be trusted.
We have this confidence in God,
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
(1 John 5:14)
Confidence comes from experience in a relationship. How we grew up with our parents aptly addresses this development of confidence. When we were teenagers, we knew how our parents would react to our behaviors. We knew what we could tell them. How far we could confide in their love for us.
Image by Marcela
Some of us had a parent’s love that lined up directly according to our good or bad choices. If we disappointed them, we knew how they would react. Good behavior pleased them. They might have used love as a manipulation rather than a given. But, they likely taught us and raised us how they were raised.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
(1 John 4:18-19)
Not all parents are good models of God’s love, forgiveness, encouragement, and faithful nurturing. Loving parents are delighted over our presence in their lives. No matter what we do, we can depend upon their love. We become confident in them and that loving relationship. Even when they have died, we believe they’re praying for us, driven to meet in heaven. Who knows why some weren’t able to do that? Who knows why parents resorted to being enablers or became co-dependent? Or worse, why they ignored and eventually abandoned us?
Ideally, parents form our understanding of God’s goodness and will for us according to the God identified in 1 John.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
(1 John 5:20)
Like any parent, I am pained by my failures at modeling God. Yet, those failures were my path to God, my treasured awakenings to God’s forgiveness, and his awareness of my desires for my children. I know my parents thought the same way about me.
John speaks to his followers and the disciples of Jesus in this same way. He encourages them to fall back upon God, not the liars and bunglers leading them astray. We should pray for anyone who has done wrong by us, he says.
Much like the false friends who encouraged us to deceive and deny our parents will for us, in our adulthood, we will find those who encourage us to deny God, even his very existence.
You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them.
We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.
(1 John 4:4-6)
At first, we may have followed those who deceived us for other reasons than believing our parents did not operate with our best in mind. A thrill, for popularity, or some seemingly un-treacherous thing. We may have doubted our parent’s sanity or their intelligence. Maybe for a good reason.
John the Evangelist warns us not to do this with God. Our parents may well have been poor models. God knows about treachery and deceit. He cuts through the world’s power over us if we let him. He does so with love.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
(1 John 4:4-6)
Our confidence in God builds from a foundation of love. Until we know God loves us at every moment, we cannot turn to him. He is only as trustworthy as we believe.
How long does this take? I know this. We give up on God long before God gives up on us. I don’t believe he ever gives up on us in this lifetime.