Summary: What Does It Mean To Be A Child Of God? 1) Now: trouble 2) In eternity: glory
Do you remember the television show “The Lives of the Rich and Famous”? On the program you may have seen a house like this one in New York. It’s supposedly the most expensive house in North America and has 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, and is surrounded by 63 acres of manicured grounds. The cost to own this place? $180 million. That doesn’t include the several million dollars a year you would need to maintain it. It must be nice to be that rich.
Do you think a television show about the lives of Christians would be a big hit? Not really. Christians seem so ordinary. But we are not ordinary. On this Reformation Day the Apostle John reminds us that we are children of God. Let’s find out what that means for us now and for eternity.
The fact that God considers us his children is a miracle. Although God created us and so in that sense we are his offspring, like the prodigal son Jesus spoke about in Luke 15 we often daily take our God-given life and use it for our own pleasure rather than to glorify him. Don’t think that’s really a big deal? Well if you had a dog that became rabid and started to attack your family, what would you do with it? I think you would have the dog put to sleep. You certainly wouldn’t let it have free reign of your house and sleep in your bed. Nor would you go to the pet store to buy another rabid dog to take home.
We sinners are like rabid dogs. By nature we don’t care about anyone else, we just care about our needs. If that’s what we are like, why did God adopt us as his children? There is only one answer to that question. God adopted us because of his love. It’s no wonder John exclaimed in our text, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a)
We see just how great God’s love is when we consider how much the process of adopting us cost him. It cost him his Son. Would you give up your child so you could keep a mangy rabid dog? I don’t think so. But that’s what God did. He punished his sinless Son for our disobedience. And so we marvel again with John, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a)
Since God paid such a great price for us, we can expect to receive good things from him can’t we? I mean if we were adopted into the family of a billionaire, we would expect to drive a fancy car and wear nice clothes. Should we expect anything less from God? Why then doesn’t anyone here live the charmed life of the rich and famous? Aren’t we all God’s children? The fact of the matter is God hasn’t promised to give his children earthly riches. Why, he doesn’t even guarantee that we’ll make it through life without having to make a trip or two to hospital. The truth is being a Christian often brings more suffering. We’re reminded of how Martin Luther found that to be true in his life. Instead of a church that was thankful he was pointing her back to Scripture, the religious leaders of Luther’s day condemned him to death.
In our sermon text John wants us to know that we shouldn’t be surprised at such treatment. John said, “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1b). Just think of how the world treated Jesus. For the most part people laughed at his claims, mocked him, and eventually murdered him. If that’s the way Jesus was treated, we shouldn’t expect to be treated any better.
While we can understand that we’ll be persecuted and mocked by unbelievers, have you ever wondered why God doesn’t protect us from other harm that comes into our life like sickness and car accidents? The fact is God does do a good job of taking care of us - cuts, bruises, diseases and all. The Bible makes it clear that God uses those things to purify our faith and make it stronger. You see in God’s hands we are diamonds but before we can shine with brilliance we need to be expertly cut and polished. That’s what God is doing with the trials he lets into our life. He is cutting off an undesirable quality in us here and polishing a desirable quality there. Oh don’t worry; God will never cut you so deeply that you lose your faith. After all he paid dearly to make you his child.