Summary: Because Christians are children of God, we have an inheritance to look forward to.
The story is told of a young man who was in a movie theater. As the lights dimmed, and he was loaded down with popcorn, cokes and candy, he began to pace up and down the aisle, scanning all the darkened rows. It was obvious he was looking for the people with whom he had come. After three or four unsuccessful trips up and down the aisle, he finally stopped and asked loudly, "Does anybody here recognize me?"
We all want to belong don’t we? We all want be known by others and to know that someone out there knows who we are and cares about us. We have a need to belong, to be in community together. That’s why we join clubs, fraternities, sororities, civic organizations, sports teams, PTA, and even churches. We have a need to be in community with others just like us or close to being like us. That’s part of how we’re wired.
It’s the way God created us. We’re meant to be in community with one another. God created Adam and Eve together so they wouldn’t be alone; so they would have support, nurture and care. Even Jesus needed that support. The first thing he did when he began his ministry was to gather a small circle of friends -- a group who would eventually become the leaders of the beginning of the church. Yes, he needed to train them, but Jesus also needed their support and their friendship. At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed by Judas with a kiss, he told them all, "I no longer call you servants, . . . now I call you friends." (John 15:15)
The disciples needed that assurance and that sense of belonging, too. And more than anything, they needed the sense of belonging to a family. Earlier that same night, Jesus said, "I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you." (John 14:18).
The famous poet, Robert Frost, once said, "Home is the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in." Home is the place to rest, to laugh, to eat, to sleep. It’s the place of our family, the social group where we love and are loved. The setting in which we grow and develop. The safe haven where burdens and joys can be shared. In our families we know we belong. In our families we can be secure.
Families are so very important. And that’s obviously why God chose that image to describe our relationship with him. We are not just servants, we’re not just friends. We’re children of God.
"All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ’Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:14-17)
Paul says, "you have received a spirit of adoption . . .we are children of God."
I. We Are Children of God
This is perhaps one of the most powerful passages that was ever written. It tells us that in the Kingdom of God, there are no orphans and no step-children. Through Christ Jesus, our Savior, we are the children of God.
And that’s an amazing truth! You can feel the incredible way John felt as he wrote, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (I John 3:1a). How utterly amazing that the God of the universe would make us his children.
Now there are two ways to enter a family. The most common way is to be born into a family. Early yesterday morning, Savannah was born into the family of Stacy and Patricia Searels. They proudly named her, they will bring her home from hospital soon, and show her off with great joy to their family and friends. They call Savannah "theirs" - she belongs to them. She is protected by them, cared for by them, loved by them. All the resources of the parents are used for the benefit of little Savannah -- for her growth and love and security.
But there’s a second way to enter a family, and that’s through adoption. Adoption is the action by which a husband and wife decide to take a boy or girl who is not their physical offspring into their family, as their own child.
Adoption is a special way to enter a home because the parents take great effort to have that child. They choose to have a child and take deliberate, often very painful, costly and time-consuming steps to get a child. There’s a great deal of waiting, countless interviews, leads that turn into dead ends, until finally a child is found. Even then, when they are told a child is available, they have the right to say, "Yes, I want that child" or "No, I will pass and wait for another - this child won’t do for me." It takes only nine months to have a birth child, but generally years to have an adopted child. Adoption never just happens. It is always a free, loving, intentional act filled with grace and compassion.