One of the most important moments in the life of Jesus was his baptism. It was the initiation of his official, public ministry. John the Baptist felt unworthy of the occasion but reluctantly immersed Jesus in the waters of the Jordan as an example to every future follower of the Messiah. And when Jesus came up out of the water, something incredibly meaningful happened, and we often pass over it quickly as we read the gospel accounts of it.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly beloved Son, who brings me joy.”
Matthew 3:16-17 NLT
When Jesus was just getting started in his public ministry, God showed up to speak into his life, words of affirmation, words that celebrated their Father-Son relationship, words that conveyed value. And he did it publicly, in front of people who would then decide to follow Jesus forever.
God didn’t just do this with Jesus. He did it through a burning bush to Moses, through multiple anointings of King David, and through the prophetic word to Jeremiah about his calling. He did it, through Jesus, in the life of Peter the “rock”, Paul the “missionary to the Gentiles”, and John the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” God sees past our faults and past our present messes to what he desires for us to be and calls us by that name. He lets us know that, because of what Jesus did on our behalf, once we’ve placed our trust in him, he is pleased to call us his children no matter what.
I have a daughter and two boys. When I read this passage, I can’t help but be reminded of just how vital it is to the development of their hearts and to their future success that they hear their Dad say, repeatedly, you’re my kid… I love you… and you bring me joy! Even when they’re in trouble for something, like whacking each other, telling a lie, or drawing weather maps on the wall in permanent marker, they still ought to know that I love them, that our relationship is solid, and that they bring me joy… even though they’re going to be punished in the short run.
I lead a church staff. They’re amazing. And they need to know it. I love them like family and believe great things about what God wants to do in, around, and through them. They can change the world, and one of my chief responsibilities as the Pastor of Grace Hills Church is to remind the church’s leadership that they’re my friends… I love them… and I’m grateful to be on the journey with them.
I bump into grumpy, depressed, agitated, scared, discouraged people in public, and you do too. We find them checking people out in the grocery store line, pumping gas, paying bills, and trying to make it through life one way or another. They often need to know from a fellow human being that they matter to God… they are loved… and they can make a difference in this world.
We are a divided people. We divide by race, religion, political platforms, and cultural differences. And while words of affirmation won’t necessarily stop wars or settle all conflicts, they can go a long way to add value to the lives of the people we meet every day. When we affirm people, our affirming spirits may just be contagious, go viral, and change the whole stinkin’ world!
So… who’s up next for you to affirm?
This article on how to affirm people originally appeared here, and is used by permission.