Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 17 2013 - Galatians 3:21-4:7 – Children of God

How do we view our relationship with God? Paul says that those who are seeking to return to living by law are seeking to return to slavery. They view God as a master who is to be obeyed, which, at best is a partial picture, and at worst becomes a distortion of the truth (see Jesus’ Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30). God sent his Son into the world that we may be made sons of God in him. Whether we are male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free person, we are all sons in that we share with the Son in being heirs of God. And “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’” (Galatians 4:6).

Through faith in Jesus Christ we have been made children of the Living God. God is our Father. We can run to him with the joyful call “Abba, Father” and know that he will not turn us away. We can be confident of his acceptance of us and of our place in his household. We can rejoice in the fact that all things are ours, both now and for the future, for God is our Father and we are his heirs (see 1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

This does not release us from needing to obey God, but it does create a different model for obedience – we are not slaves but sons. We do not obey in order to be accepted, we obey because we are accepted, because we belong. We do not obey out of fear but out of love (see John 15:9-16), the love of a child to please their father.

The driving principle in our lives is not a set of external rules and regulations but the presence and power of the Spirit within us – the Spirit of God’s Son, the Spirit of the risen Saviour. He lives in us and is at work to make us like Christ. He is the one who opens up our minds and hearts to understand the love of God for us and to embrace and live in that love. His presence makes us temples of the living God and turns every aspect of our lives into an act of worship.

He is the one who unites us with one another as members of the one family of God. Human distinctions remain but they no longer divide. Rather, they can be celebrated just as we may celebrate the distinctive characteristics of our own children.

This is the message that Paul has for the Christians in Galatia. Through Christ they have become members of God’s family. They are fully loved and accepted as they are. They do not need to try to become what they are not – to become Jews through the practice of Jewish ritual. Christ has broken down all these old barriers that he might create one new people out of the diverse peoples of the world. All the world is his, in all its glorious diversity, and he claims it all for himself.

This is the good news that has been revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the good news that is to shape our lives as children of God. This is the good news that is to shape the character of our churches as we embrace peoples from all backgrounds, without requiring them to become like us but rejoicing in the diversity of the people of God. We are to be signs of the kingdom and expressions of hope for the world.

Abba, Father, forgive us that we have all too often shrunk the message of the gospel to the size of our own preconceptions. We find it difficult to accept and embrace people who we think of as not being like us. Thank you that you are not like that. You have embraced us in your love in the Lord Jesus. Help us by your Spirit to show that same love for one another that we may rejoice together in your goodness and make your love visible to the world.

Peter Misselbrook