All in the Family

This week we continued in considering WHO we are (last week, as "holy,") to WHOSE we are -- God's adopted children.

Take a look at this moving story of Angelina's adoption:

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It's fairly popular to refer to all human beings as "children of God."  We do begin life as children, and we are created by our heavenly Father.  So it makes sense.  But like Angelina, though we may be God's children, sin makes us live like "at risk children."  Sin, whether inherited or chosen, cuts us off from our Father, or community, and our future.  

But when we are in Christ, by God's grace and accepted through our faith, we become adopted children of God.

1) Our adoption in Christ heals what is broken.  Paul calls this "redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7).  I'll bet when most of read this, we think of our own, personal sins.  And those are included!  But the redemption of sins points to the larger redemption from Sin, as the global phenomena behind much larger expressions of brokenness that affect humanity at every level.  And because "Sin" is so much larger than any one of us, Jesus' redemption is larger, too.  The healing Christ offers in redemption applies to an individual, but the endgame is healing for the whole of humanity.

2) Our adoption in Christ offers us belonging.  A child is not adopted into nothing; they are adopted into a family.  They are given a belonging they could not have had on their own, or to some extent in a foster situation.  Paul's original audience would comprised of Jewish Christians who had a heritage of "belonging" as part of God's ancient covenant people.  But also of non-Jewish Christians who didn't share that heritage.  And that difference was threatening their unity.  So Paul reminds them that despite their different ethnic heritage, they were all adopted out of a heritage of sin and into God's Kingdom, in Christ.  

3) Our adoption in Christ guarantees our future.  Paul's masculine language in 1:5, "adoption to sonship," has nothing to do with men and women but rather to do with ancient systems of inheritance.  Women were almost entirely excluded from any kind of inheritance.  So to be adopted "to sonship" means, whether a person is male or female, being given full rights of inheritance.  In this case, inheritance of God's Kingdom as "co-heirs" with Christ.  In this world, one of the long-term gifts of adopting a child into a stable home is the hope for a future.  Parents should be able to secure a sense of belonging, of grace and love, and also a confidence that the child will have a good and prosperous life.  That is the kind of hope for a future our adoption in Christ offers each of us.

1) In what ways might being an adopted child of God heal something in you?
2) In what ways have you experienced belonging in your life?  Lack of belonging?  What might belonging look like in a church context?
3) When you think about your future, do you have a sense of anxiety and dread, unsure about your future?  Do you have confidence and hope?  What contributes to your sense of your own future?  And in what ways might being a "co-heir" with Christ of the Father's kingdom change the way you think about your future?


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