We are more than friends and servants to God—we are His children. If we were only servants and friends it would be more than we deserve; but our heavenly Father is not satisfied with such an arrangement. We are sons and daughters in Christ. God is our Heavenly Father.
I have tried to be a friend to my children. This approach has served me well over the years. However, I am more than a friend to them and they are more than friends to me. I am their father: which includes approval, emotional support, provision, love and more. My children are my children with the rights and privileges of a paternal relationship; and more importantly the benefit of inherent unconditional love!
Abraham was called the friend of God. The angel of the Lord sat down at the door of Abraham’s tent sharing the coming demise of Sodom and Gomorrah. This encounter is a striking visualization of what I would think of someone having a friendship with God. Abraham was more than a friend however. He was also a child of God. God is our friend but is much more, like Abraham He is also our Father. This is an important distinction; this gives us a deep sense of unconditional love!
Think of how wonderful and reassuring this is! The children of the living God. When we really get this in our heads and hearts it gives us confidence and hope for the present and the future. And no matter what happens we know we are loved.
Abraham was also a servant of God. His service was proven over and over again: leaving a comfortable home to wander in a foreign land, the highly unusual obedience regarding Isaac, and the way he interacted with his neighbors in a very hostile environment. Although Abraham was a servant, he was also a child of God. God was his Father.
How do you know that you are a child of God? The answer is simple. The Holy Spirit is our inward assurance of who we are. This is a certain and convincing inward proof to those who have experienced the Holy Spirit’s work in them. Paul’s epistle to the Romans is clear; The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. The Spirit of God received when we believed is our spiritual birth certificate.
The Prodigal Son lost his self-esteem; feeling worthless. He squandered every dime of his inheritance; so poor he was eating the same food animals were fed on the farm. He started to think I am better than I have become. Out of desperation the Prodigal Son headed for home; hoping to find love and meaning for his life again.
On his way home, this bruised young man scripted and rehearsed what he was going to say to his father; paraphrased, it went something like this: forget taking me back as a son, if you will only take me back as a servant this will be enough. I just want to come home! Kind of sad that the Prodigal was this skeptical or suspicious of his father’s unconditional love. That’s probably one of the mistakes he made in the first place; before he left his father’s house; not knowing just how much his father loved him.
When he got home, the father welcomed his son without reservation. The father gave him a robe, a pair of shoes and placed the family ring on his finger to show his wayward son that he had not lost his position in the family. These gifts were the symbols and the proof of sonship; the proof of his father’s unconditional love.
These gifts would remind this wayward son of who he was, a fallen son, a redeemed son; and that he could and would find a way to build new treasures in a new life from the ruins of a lost inheritance.
Our Heavenly Father has not given us a ring, a robe, or a pair of shoes to show us where our place is with Him. He has given the Holy Spirit to assure us that we are the Children of God; regardless of where we have been or how long we have been there, our Father’s love is absolutely unconditional!
Joseph C. Hutchison
Rochester Hills, Michigan
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