God’s Children

A mother listens to the baby monitor in her three-year-old’s room during “nap” time. Her daughter is engaged in an elaborate tea party. The special guest at the table is her one-year-old cousin who lives and is currently located in another state. The mother smiles as she hears the conversation between “Baby Layne” and “Nor-Nor.” In the little girl’s mind, this is real. The imagination is strong with this one!

It is delightful to enter the mind of a child. There is so much hope, innocence, wonder, and magic there. The purity of a child’s heart is something to behold.

In 1st John, we see the idea of the purity of children used as a metaphor for how we change when we become followers of the Father. We become God’s children. This means that when he appears, we shall see him as his is. Our hope purifies us, as Christ is pure. With the confident innocence of a child, we can approach the throne of God.

1 John 3 (Common English Bible)

 See what kind of love the Father has given to us in that we should be called God’s children, and that is what we are! Because the world didn’t recognize him, it doesn’t recognize us.

Dear friends, now we are God’s children, and it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be. We know that when he appears we will be like him because we’ll see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves even as he is pure.

That purity is in jeopardy when it comes to sin. Sin will be received by the Father as an act of rebellion. Sin separates us from his presence and stains our souls. Thankfully, we know that he appeared to take away our sins.

Every person who practices sin commits an act of rebellion, and sin is rebellion. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and there is no sin in him. Every person who remains in relationship to him does not sin. Any person who sins has not seen him or known him.

Little children, make sure no one deceives you. The person who practices righteousness is righteous, in the same way that Jesus is righteous.

John reminds us not to fall into deception. Righteousness is the way of the children of God. It is the life Jesus calls us to live. We are called God’s children, and that is what we are!

See What Kind of Love by Michelle Robertson

Being the Runt

The Lectionary passage today takes us back to the time when a new king of Israel was to be selected from among the sons of Jesse. Samuel was in charge, and as he looked over the fine specimens standing in front of him, he assessed them by their height and physical appearance. Watch what happens:

1 Samuel 16 (The Message)

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Here he is! God’s anointed!”

But God told Samuel, “Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.”

10 Jesse presented his seven sons to Samuel. Samuel was blunt with Jesse, “God hasn’t chosen any of these.”

11 Then he asked Jesse, “Is this it? Are there no more sons?”

“Well, yes, there’s the runt. But he’s out tending the sheep.”

Samuel ordered Jesse, “Go get him. We’re not moving from this spot until he’s here.”

12 Jesse sent for him. He was brought in, the very picture of health—bright-eyed, good-looking.

God said, “Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one.”

The runt, of course, was David, who is still thought of as one of Israel’s most powerful kings. And he wasn’t even in the running.

Have you ever felt like that?

I suspect that one of the greatest roots of sibling rivalry is feeling inadequate in comparison to one’s siblings. If your sisters and brothers are good-looking over-achievers, you may have grown up feeling like the runt of the family. I know a very accomplished third-born who, in his 50’s, was still comparing himself to his high-achieving older sister and brother and calling himself “the runt.”

Isn’t it good to know that there are no runts in the family of God?

This story reminds us that God sees all of our potential, beauty, and promise with no comparison to those around us. He sees us as uniquely designed in HIS image, and recognizes the value inherent in each of us….a value that he himself imparts to us, so we can trust that it is GOOD, just like the rest of his creation.

You matter to God. You are highly valued by him. You, indeed, are the apple of his eye!

So if you woke up this morning feeling a little inadequate, a little left out, or a little down, remember that God cherishes YOU. You are a child of God in a family that is runt-free. Thanks be to God!

Milk Dud the Runt by Welcome to Nature via Twitter

No Peeking

There is no better way to ruin Christmas when you are a kid than to sneak around and peek at your presents before Christmas Day. I did this once at the prompting of my evil older sister, and it was the WORST CHRISTMAS EVER. She had discovered the stash of presents my mother hid in her bedroom closet and ”forced” me to look. OK, forced is a strong word. I must admit that I was a willing participant. But what a miserable Christmas that was, trying to look surprised as we opened each present with our fake “oooohs and ahhhhs.” Never again did we make THAT mistake!

Christmas is all about the Big Reveal. Even better than seeing what make-over decorator magic Chip and Joanna have pulled off again this week, the big reveal of Christmas exposes so much more than how Christmas appears from the outside.

It isn’t just the gift of an infant in a manger. It isn’t just the presence of God on earth. It isn’t only the miracle of the immaculate conception. It isn’t just the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. It is all that, and so much more. It is a proclamation of freedom from the bondage of sin and oppression.

It is the gift of an inheritance as the rightful heirs of our Papa.

Galatians 4 (The Message)

4-7 But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.

You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

In all that is amazing about this big reveal, let’s focus on just one aspect of this passage. At the first Christmas, we were given the privilege of INTIMATE CONVERSATION with God. We received complete access to an inheritance that affirms us as his children. We are granted the chance to dialogue with the one who offers us eternal life. WE HAVE ACCESS TO PAPA.

There is no present in Mom’s closet that can even come close.

How can you experience this great gift today? Where is God calling you into intimate conversation with him? What does inheritance in the kingdom really mean to you?

You are a child of God. Christmas reveals that. So open up this gift and use it. Talk to your Papa! This is one gift you will receive this year that is appropriate to both keep and re-gift. Go and tell it on the mountain, and everywhere.

Peeking. Photo by Wende Smith Pritchard