Freedom Through Adoption

My brother-in-law was adopted as a baby and knew nothing about his birth family until recently. Out of curiosity, he began a search of his ancestry and discovered that, lo and behold, he has a sister. They were able to connect and finally met a few years ago. Now they make regular trips to each other’s home as they discover who they are in the context of who they were. One look at a picture of them with their cheeks pressed together assures us of what the DNA confirmed: their large, beautiful eyes are a perfect matched set. This is the evidence of their blood tie.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, Paul writes about adoption. He contends that it was God’s plan all along to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 1 (The Message)


3-6 
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

The Message translation is exuberant in calling this a “celebration of God’s lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.” Jesus’ activity on the cross is all paperwork that was needed to finalize our adoptions. His death and resurrection enable us to enjoy the freedom of knowing that our sins are permanently forgiven, and we can be a part of God’s long-range plan:

7-10 Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Do you know who you are? You are an adopted child of God. Our brother Jesus has been watching out for us since we were conceived. What does it mean to you to know that you are part of God’s plan and his purpose?

11-12 It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

For me, it means freedom. I am free to love, free to seek God, free to find forgiveness, and free from sin and death. Being part of the family of God allows me to be a part of what’s coming next, and I can’t wait.

13-14 It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This down payment from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

Do you know this freedom? If you don’t, you are just one prayer away from having it all. When we confess Christ as Lord, put our whole trust in his grace, and repent of our sins, we receive eternal salvation. Is today the day?

Welcome to the family.

Sunset Freedom by Michelle Robertson

Cornerstone

The definition of the word “cornerstone” offers two meanings. A cornerstone is a stone uniting two masonry walls in the construction of a building. It also describes something that is essential, indispensable, or basic. So you can attend a ceremony where the cornerstone of a new federal building is being laid while recognizing that democracy is the cornerstone of a free society.

I like the fact that cornerstones unite walls. Think about that in a figurative way…people often put up walls around them as they draw lines around their political, religious, racial, and societal preferences. Living in community with people of opposite preferences requires that common cornerstones be used to hold things together.

Jesus is such a cornerstone. Salvation can be found in no other place, regardless of one’s thoughts or leanings. He is the uniting factor that brings disparate entities together.

Our passage in Acts today follows a healing miracle that Peter and John performed in Jesus’ name. They are immediately questioned by the leaders, elders, and legal experts:

Acts 4 (Common English Bible)

The next day the leaders, elders, and legal experts gathered in Jerusalem, along with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others from the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

One would think that the healing of a fellow citizen would bring unity to the commUNITY and be met with joy and appreciation. One would be wrong. It only brought division.

Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, “Leaders of the people and elders, are we being examined today because something good was done for a sick person, a good deed that healed him? 10 If so, then you and all the people of Israel need to know that this man stands healthy before you because of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 

Peter is clear that it is only through the power of Jesus’ name that the man was healed. He was also clear that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

11 This Jesus is the stone you builders rejected; he has become the cornerstone! 12 Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.”

The message of salvation is a cornerstone of our hope, our belief, and our faith. It is an essential and indispensable teaching of our faith, one that we can build upon.

Whether we allow it to unite our walls or divide us is up to us. Jesus came to save the whole world and salvation can be found in no one else. Let this be the cornerstone of your witness as you proclaim the good news of the one raised from the dead.

A Cornerstone of Faith