Saturday, 9 September 2017

Distant God or loving Father?

The Spirit you received brought about your adoption. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans 8:15-16

I wonder what it’s like to learn that you were adopted as a baby?

Hopefully you had a secure and happy childhood, and it never so much as dawned on you that your parents were anything but – well, your parents, just like everyone else’s. But then a day came, perhaps in your early teens, when they took you aside and said “We need to tell you something…”

I can only imagine. It’s not a place where I have stood – but I have known one or two people who have. Perhaps you have too (in which case I would love to hear from you).

I imagine your first reaction might simply be one of shock, because the whole landscape of your life has suddenly changed. Then you might feel confused, hurt and even angry. But I hope that once it has all sunk in the main feeling is one of gratitude.

After all, to take the step of adopting someone else’s child is a wonderful thing to do. Even if you go through the rest of your life wondering what might have been, the fact is that someone – probably a total stranger – demonstrated extraordinary love and compassion, all at real cost.

Well, Paul tells us here in Romans that when we put our faith in Jesus, God adopts us into his family. He becomes our Father.

Many years ago I picked up a little paperback. It was written by a Muslim, and the title was I dared to call him ‘Father’. I don’t remember much about it now, but the writer described her conversion to Christ out of Islam. And the clinching moment, as far as I can remember, was when she took a deep breath and did something no Muslim would ever normally think of doing: she addressed God – yes, Allah himself! – as “Father”. Her life was never the same again.

May I ask: Do you think of God as your Father? Do you call him Father?

To know you are adopted by God changes everything.

First, it gives you a status.

We should never boast about being God’s children; this is not something we have earned or deserved. We become his children not because of anything we do, but because of what Jesus did in dying and rising for us.

But even though this status is not something we have deserved, it is a status nonetheless. It sets us apart. Paul goes on in the next verse to say that, as well as being God’s children, we become also “co-heirs with Christ.” Jesus, in other words, is in effect our brother, and so we share in the eternal destiny he has won. We are massively privileged.

Do you live day by day conscious of your privileged status?

Second, it gives you an assurance.

Many people have only the vaguest idea of what will happen to them after death. Their ideas may well be full of superstition – perhaps just “hoping for the best.”

But Paul adds a little further on that we will “share in Christ’s glory.”

A day is coming when the affairs of this world will be wound up once and for all. Jesus will return not as the-Saviour-to-be-crucified but as the-Lord-to-be-glorified. And that eternal glory of heaven itself will belong also to us, because we belong to him.

So… we can anticipate this future with complete confidence. As John puts it, “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1John 3:3). The heavenly Father who adopted us is not going to “un-adopt” us! Let’s stress again, this isn’t because we have made ourselves good enough by what we have done, but because Jesus has done all that is needed.

Do you have real assurance about your eternal salvation?

Third, it gives you a responsibility.

Families have a likeness – and this is true even in God’s adopted family. And what is the family likeness of God’s family? In one word: holiness. God is a perfect and holy God, pure and sinless.

So if we are his children, nothing less than this should be our aim day by day. True, we will never reach perfection in this earthly life, but we should be preparing for that day when we will indeed “be like him.” Sometimes that will be hard, but let’s make no mistake – it is in fact our deepest joy and fulfilment.

Do you aim to be like Jesus in all you do and say and think?

To sum up… We are God’s adopted children! So let’s enjoy the status, let’s find peace in the assurance, and let’s measure up to the responsibility!

Heavenly Father, thank you for adopting me as your child. May the beauty of Jesus be seen in me more and more each day. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment