What does it mean to be a "child of God"?
This past Sunday in church we sang a song that's a bit of a favourite around Centrepoint. It's called 'No Longer Slaves'. For many in our church it's a bit of an anthem for life.
The main hook of the song centres around these words:
"I'm no longer a slave to fear,
I am a child of God."
THE DANGER OF FAMILIARITY
Sometimes we can sing or say words or phrases with such regularity that they become too familiar to us. If that is true of these lyrics, or perhaps you have never understood or grasped them, then you are missing out on one of the greatest treasures of life - how knowing Christ Himself affects who we are.
If we could really lay hold of who and whose we are, the effect would be enormous.
The truth is that being a child of God is a truth that fundementally changes everything in our lives. It changes how we relate with God, how we relate with others, how we view ourselves, how we deal with highs and lows. It changes who we are.
For most of my christian walk I have known that the bible says I am a child of God. To be honest though, it didn't really change anything in me. It was something I intellectually knew, not something I experienced.
TO BE A CHILD
In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), we see someone who leaves the family home with their share of the inheritance and blows it all on loose living. He hits rock bottom and realises the personal cost brought on by his error.
When he decides to return to his father, he does so just hoping to be drafted in as an employee. He wants to work for his dad, earn his way. He's not expecting too much - just hoping to do enough to survive and earn his way.
When we don't know that we are children of God, that is how we relate to God. We relate to him as an employee. We're trying to earn our way, prove ourselves but constantly falling down. We slip up and condemn ourselves to "do better." This is simply religion.
In the prodigal son story the father is having none of it. He's not taking his child back in begrudgingly, throwing him a bone by giving him a job. He's throwing open his arms, sprinting towards his boy as he appears on the horizon, wrapping his arms around him with a hug that says "I am so glad you are home! I've been waiting for this moment!"
WHAT THE FATHER IS DOING
He's giving over the best robes, putting jewels on his son's hands, having a hige party to celebrate! "My child is back!" he yells. "He was gone, he might have been dead, he wandered off and left but now he's back. I'm not condemning him, I'm taking him back with joy."
That is the heart of God towards us. Do you see that that is how God views you? That is the grace of God.
His grace is expensive, it cost Jesus his life but God paid the price of agony to heal the gaping wound in our relationship with Him.
So when we come to Jesus, this is what we get. We brought into God's family with joy - not as employees but as children (John 1:12).
Employees need to watch themselves because if they mess up they could lose their job.
Children don't cease to be children when they make mistakes. Children don't need to fixate on things or strive to prove themselves. Children of God get to be radically secure to the point where you can enjoy the gifts God has put in your life but not depend on them to identify you.
THIS IS NOT COMMON
When God calls you His child, this is not a common thing. This is not a small statement. If I am a child of God then my identity is so sure that I can go through anything and still stand because my Father - who supports me and leads me and fuels me and comforts me and heals me and tells me I am His and I am loved and He will never let me go - is the source and bestower of my identity.
Take a moment now and think about this truth. If you are a christian, you are a child of God. If you are a child of God then the bible says you are also hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3) and that you are a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:16,17).
When the lies and accusations of the enemy or the hurtful words or actions of others come against you saying "you're this" or "you're that", you did this so that means you are this or deserve that. When everything around you would seem to trample on the beauty and the fullness you have been made for, you have the response that crushes all opposition: "I AM A CHILD OF GOD".
Make no mistake, you have been made for fulness from God.
It's not an arrogant thing - it's a gift. You didn't earn it and make yourself special. God, your creator and father, gave you the status and and standing of being His child.
Let us never see this as a common thing. This is supernaturally scandelous - that those of us that have spurned and rejected God, as we all have - get to come into relationship with Him not as ones trying to earn their way back but as those whose reconciliation and redemption has been paid for, who are exuberantly loved and are considered adored children.
Adopted in and treated as His own, we get to share in the delights of enjoying being in the family whilst becoming agents of the family business, dispersing the grace, truth and healing of God into the world around us through our lives.
When you sing "I am a child of God", know that it is the best news ever. It's not nice words, it is your identity. Let that take root and see the world around you transform.