“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
There are some differences between the Old and New Testaments in how God was described, and the important qualities attributed to God. Prior to Jesus, the concept of God was more of an impersonal Lord, Creator, Ruler, and Law Giver. God was described by eternality, goodness, grace, holiness, immanence, but also emphasis was placed on God as being judgmental, angry, and vengeful. Jesus taught the idea of an intimate “father-child” relationship, one of companionship and friendship. Jesus added an emphasis on pity, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and Love when referring to God. He taught that we are under the protective care of our God the Father.
In fact, not only are we under the protection of our heavenly Father, but in Romans 8:14-17 we read this: 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.
We are God’s children, and the Holy Spirit active in our lives frees us so that we do not need to live in fear, unless we choose that path. Rather than enslavement to the world, we are offered security and adoption papers into the family of God.
God is our Abba. Christ taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father”, which in the original text is Abba. Abba is an Aramaic word best translated as Papa. It is intimate, close to the heart, respectful, yet personal. When we are children, most of us don’t address our fathers as “Father”; we say dad, daddy, papa, pops. So, we are told in this verse to cry out to our dad and express our emotions, fears, exaltations to our intimate God-papa.
And when we do that, Spirit within responds, reassuring us. Spirit testifies to our spirit-natures that we are God’s children. We feel the Presence within us.
The last part of this verse says that as Children of God, we are heirs of God; co-heirs with Christ to all that God offers: His Kingdom, love, abundance, wisdom, all that God is. Luke 12:32 states, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” In those days, Man’s law said that the first-born son gets the largest portion of the inheritance. But Man’s laws are not God’s laws. God does not see through male gendered eyes so all of God’s children are beloved and worthy, regardless of their gender.
Jesus taught us to look upon ourselves as Children of God, as well as servants of God. Although it is our tendency to succumb to our earthly natures, it is imperative to develop our souls into the likeness of God. Although we are all Children of God, to claim that birthright we must strive to express divine qualities and exhibit the highest ethical conduct. As we become conscious of our kinship with each other we are drawn into more loving and sympathetic relationships. We find our true selves when we adhere to the direction and guidance of God’s high-level thoughts and values.
Jesus taught that all people could express God fully and live as a Child of God, and so encouraged us to respect all and to treat everyone with dignity. As Children of God, we are all part of one family. We are not to interfere in another person’s spiritual life and journey. Matthew 7:3 tells us: And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? Each of us has our own journey, our own personalized customized set of lessons to learn. Let us tend to our own lessons and support others through love.
Children were special to Christ, and he used them to teach.
In Matthew 18:6-7: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!
For Jesus, children are pure, open, trusting, and examples of how we should approach God. By extension, the dignity and worth we give children is to be offered to all of God’s children. Jesus taught that love toward God and humankind is the ideal of right living. It is the righteousness in the Beatitude: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
In John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." The translation of ‘love’ from the Greek implies the concept of friendship to each other and God and would consequently lead to service of both. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to take first place among you must be the servant of all; for even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve.” Mark 10:44-46.
Jesus taught that through our behavior, deeds, and inner awareness of being a Child of God, our true self, we realize the fullness of God and deepen our relationship with God. We must become conscious of Spirit’s movement in and through us and be made anew through our connection with Spirit to enter the Kingdom of God.
In John 3:3-7 Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” He goes on to say, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
Our relationship with God reflects a common ethical like-mindedness. As our alignment with God awareness broadens, so does our kinship with one another. Christ says in Mark 3:35, “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
As a Child of God, we are taught to see things differently, through a strong sense of love for self, as well as love for God and others. Jesus demonstrated and spoke on the value of controlling hatred, resentment, and vengeance. Although he taught compassion, tenderness, and mercy, he advocated courage, justice, and firmness when the occasion called for it.
Jesus instructed his followers to give up anger, but not to denounce the self. We have value, as do our neighbors. In John 18:23, Jesus expressed resentment to an unwarranted blow from a guard: "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?"
When we follow that example – loving God, loving others in a manner of friendship, loving and respecting ourselves, giving service to God and humankind, then we are reborn in Spirit.
Part of being reborn in Spirit is recognizing the worth of our self and others. One of our greatest human challenges involves worthiness. Fear can cause us to believe that ‘enough is not enough’. We fear what might happen, so we want to safeguard the future. The result is to feel lack amid material wealth.
Fear can also cause us to believe that ‘less than enough’ is ok, and we deserve that. We may feel that we are not worthy of more, or capable, or that it is a sin to have abundance. Yet we are meant to feel our natural beauty, worth, and innocence with the world. We were created to express who we are and accept the love for who we are. Our soul adds beauty to the world and Spirit wants to bless us for that through the world.
The solution is to release the fear, claim our inheritance as a Child of God, and dare to enjoy ourselves. We release fear by aligning our thinking with Spirit. If we think we are worthy and deserving, we are. If we think we are capable, we are. If we think we are loving, peaceful, and supported by God in all we do, Spirit makes it so.
God invites us to dinner, and we have but to accept the invitation and give thanks, then take our place at the banquet table and enjoy the feast. We are being invited to live fully and to know God as our Divine Parent, Source, Creator, Heavenly Father and Divine Mother.
To be a child of God is to recognize in every other face another child of God. It is to love one another, and to say ‘Namaste’ to all that we encounter, “The Christ in me beholds the Christ in you. We are one in Spirit; we are brothers and sisters. The same light shining within me shines within you.”
Rumi, a 13th Century Sufi Poet, wrote: “I go to the Jewish synagogue, I go to the Christian church, I go to the Muslim Mosque, and I see the same altar, and I feel the same spirit.”
My prayer is that as we hunger and thirst after this righteousness, this right way of living, through love, we will know God and know ourselves as children of God.