I have a friend who has four children, one of whom is adopted. I was with him once when he met someone for the first time and was answering questions about himself. When the question ”which one was adopted“ was asked, he gave his usual reply. With a dismissive wave of his hand he replied, ”Oh, I can’t remember.” It was his way of saying that all of his children were precious, equal, and loved.

Do you know that God feels the same way about you?

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he addressed a situation that had arisen between the “Judiazers”(Jewish converts) and the Gentile Christians. The Judiazers were insisting that converts to Christianity had to become Jewish (under the law) before becoming Christian. This involved many aspects of Judaism, including mandatory circumcision.

Can you imagine your Evangelism team going out door-to-door with that? That’s a hard pass, fellows.

Fortunately, Paul made the case that Jews and Gentiles were all adopted into the faith equally, and there was no need to go through the Law first:

Galatians 4 (Common English Bible)

But when the fulfillment of the time came, God sent his Son, born through a woman, and born under the Law. This was so he could redeem those under the Law so that we could be adopted. Because you are sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and if you are his child, then you are also an heir through God.

This passage gives us permission to call upon God as our Abba-Father. It speaks of a tender relationship between parent and child. It invites us to sit on Dad’s lap and tell him our troubles. It guarantees our inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

We are redeemed into the family of God, and God calls us his sons and daughters. Christ was sent in the fulfillment of time to level the playing field, giving us equal access to the Father. Like any family, we will have differences and squabbles with each other, but at the end of the day, Jesus calls us all in from the backyard, and we put our feet under the same table … one that he has prepared for us.

The next time you come to the table to receive communion, remember this. The body that was broken and the blood that was poured out for the forgiveness of sins are acts of redemption that were done for all of God’s adopted kids. May we be humbled, grateful, and ready to welcome our brothers and sisters there.

Come to the Table

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