This week in the Gathering we will explore what it means to be a Child of God. This is a theme that comes up often within the church and is used as a rally point for our identity as Christians. Back to the earliest verses in the Bible, namely the creation story, the creation of the human, whether looking at the first story or the Adam and Eve story, our creation was an expression of love. Moreover, the God asserts himself into our lives in a very parental role.
Think about the story of the “Forbidden Fruit.” Like many child parent relationships, there is a great level of care God gives to Adam and Eve. He created them and allowing them to grow and live, but at the same time he set clear rules. As we can discern from the text, God hopes they will follow them, but also knows, since he gave us free will that they would not, leading to the expulsion and so on.
Throughout the rest of the history of the Hebrew people we see a God who is involved in the lives of His creation. Not like the helicopter parents of this generation, God was involved, but in a way that allowed the people to grow and find their own way. Unfortunately, to God’s displeasure, the people continue to choose and follow paths that are directly opposed to what God wants for us.
This is where the modern church runs into great issues, since in some ways we are expecting God to be more like a modern parent involved in every action and giving us a clear direction. This is not the case, nor has it ever been; God being a benevolent God, he gave us free will so that we could make decisions and follow our own paths. But there is ultimately a choice that we have to make of whether we choose to follow God or follow ourselves.
Interestingly, in the passage that we read this week, we come across the line “Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” The Devil in this passage is pointing to a being that is of God’s creation. In fact, the devil is really referring to human kind in that when we choose to Sin we are choosing this world over God’s and therefore divorcing ourselves from God’s family.
When we think of it this way, we begin to realize that when we are born into this world God gives us every tool and every ability we need to be faithful and true to God, but time after time we allow our wants and needs to overcome us. We really do become products of this world, forgetting our divine gifts.
As Children of God, our way back to Him is simple and comes from our faithfulness and devotion. As we learn from the teachings of Christ, God is longing for his lost flock and our way back is to learn to accept God, follow him, and more than anything else to show our love to God by caring for one another.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen