“And so from this one man (Abraham), and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
If you do not have one, how do you become a member of a family? Should you go to someone into whose family you wish to belong and ask them for the qualifications? This would hardly do. Meeting requirements or keeping rules is not how one qualifies for the status of a child. To be recognized as a child within a family is not a status that is earned. It is a status conferred either by birth or adoption. In the case of becoming God’s child, it means both.
We are not born children of God. We are born creatures of God. This is how the Bible describes us and it is an important distinction. This is not to say that we were not created to be sons and daughters within God’s family. It is to say that from birth we reject that high status. Cut adrift from the moorings of faith, hope and love, our status is diminished from child to creature. We become little gods unto ourselves, choosing an orphans path of wandering willfulness, with no direction to call homeward.
Among the several great mysteries unfolded in Christ is that through Him we are restored to the status of God’s child, God’s son or daughter. Your status as God’s child is not earned like the wages of an employee; it is not paid for like the rent of a tenant; it does not come as the result of begrudging obedience, like a citizen obeying the law. The Bible tells us that this restoration is sheer gift, by God’s grace alone.
When the writer of Hebrews wrote of this restored status it was important for him to refer to Abraham. The gift of faith was the key. Abraham was invited to go to a place of promise. No details were provided. But like a trusting son or daughter, Abraham went. It is this living relationship of trust that is restored in Jesus Christ and through which we are reborn and adopted into God’s family, by His grace.
When God declares in your baptism that your sins are forgiven and that you are raised to new life with Christ, you may trust that promise.
When all doors seem shut and there is no obvious way forward, you may trust God’s promise that he will never leave you or forsake you.
When prayers seem to fall into empty silence you may trust that even the most trivial of them is heard.
When the harshness and chaos of the world disillusion and you long for a better place, you may trust the promise that God has prepared a place for you, his beloved child, and will one day bring you safely home.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”