Recently one of my esteemed colleagues described Christmas as a time when persons invent new ways to get into debt. As we pause to reflect on the incarnation I’d like to suggest that we consider the notion of timing and grappling with knowing what is required at this time in our nation’s history so that we will be a part of the solution.
In building his arguments in defense of grace in the face of his detractors in the province of Galatia Paul argues that the first advent was no haphazard random event but that it was located at the centre of God’s eternal plan for the adoption of humanity into his covenantal promise to Abraham. At Galatians 4:4 – 5 Paul states “4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. In the contextual section 3: 23 – 4: 7 he continues to make the case for cross over from law to grace by introducing the concept of adoption. As we prepare to celebrate another Christmas I’d like us to explore the concept of adoption a gift that keeps on giving.
It is my considered view that not enough is being done by the disciples of Jesus in our nation to cauterize the debilitating impact of the high levels of Absentee fathers, strained relationships between fathers and sons, and present but absent fathers in our homes. Have you considered the fact that God chose to reveal Himself to us consistently through the image of a Father? It should not surprise us then to discover that it is difficult for many Jamaicans to identify with God as father.
There are deep and weighty truths in this text. Truths that bring to my mind the words of the song “If you only knew the blessing that salvation brings then you would never stay away…” Truths that can transform the way we celebrate Christmas this year and transform the lives of the many children in our land who are being robbed of the blessing of parents in their lives. In the text we encounter:
- THE REALITY OF OUR ADOPTION
- THE RESULTS OF OUR ADOPTION
THE REALITY OF OUR ADOPTION
(a) The Blessing of Adoption: Justification, Inheritance, and Life have all been traced to faith- now adoption is linked to faith. Believers are not just children of Abraham but sons of God! In verse 26 we are labeled as – “Sons of God by faith is Jesus Christ.” v. 26 This is precisely what John had in mind in John 1: 14 For as many as believed on Him to them he gave the right to be called children of God. This gift of adoption is indeed a gift that keeps us giving.
(b) The basis of adoption is the incarnation of Christ
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 4:4 The eternal Son became the Son of man, that His people might become the sons of God. When the time had fully come, God sent his Son. It had been set for an appointed hour, planned to finest detail. Since Paul had already graphically portrayed Christ before their eyes in verse 1 of chapter 3, they knew that the incarnation was a reality, now they are being made to see that their adoption a reality.
I’d like to suggest that we take some time over this holiday period to advise ourselves on the number of children in the care of the state and their less than ideal circumstances under which they are left to grow up. What if the message of the incarnation of Jesus and our resultant adoption could lead a number of us to seriously consider adopting a child from the state in the New Year. Would that be a gift that keeps on giving? Would that be a way to deliver you from the materialistic craze that we have become trapped into? In many African nations, especially the ones hardest hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic the disciples of Jesus are leading the way in foster care and adoption the thousands of orphans that AIDS leaves in its wake.
THE RESULT OF OUR ADOPTION
- Human Equality- The adoption is Universal/Unifying in scope
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus .v.28 There is the creation of a unity of believer that obliterates and ignores worldly and natural distinctions. So my churched friends we come to yet another Christmas yet the denominational enemy lines remain drawn in the concrete of our buildings. Oh what a true advent celebration it would be if the multiplied churches in a geographical area would agree to have a joint celebratory service on Thursday morning, or a joint breakfast after their respective service? How far more true would our joy to the world be if class and colour barriers are thrown down this week and we establish a way of doing life that affirms the unity that the arrival of Jesus among the riff raffs heralded.
Divine Inheritance: Listen to verse 29. If you belong to Christ… then you are Abraham’s offspring and spiritual heirs according to promise. Watchman Nee tells about a new convert who came in deep distress to see him. “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I think I’m losing my salvation.” Nee said, “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he is a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog; my son is my heir. You are Jesus Christ’s heir because it is for you that He died.” We are Christ’s heirs, not through our perfection but by means of His grace.
- What does the ward of the state have to look forward to in terms of the legacy of a parent?
- Set free from slavery to the law – v.5 To purchase the freedom of those who were subject to the law. Another wonderful reason to celebrate the incarnation. Those that the Son has set free are truly free. The freedom from the law that we enjoy can become a catalyst to lead us to live to make children free. To make women free, to make men free. How much are you willing to spend to make others free?
- The Holy Spirit who enables us know our father. Verses 6 and 7: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Stop for a moment and imagine what a child in state care misses by not being able to look into the care eyes of male and say the words “Daddy.” Do you doubt that you can make that difference? Perhaps that’s the excuse you’re telling yourself to take the easy way out when this form of ministry is calling your name.