The evidence of being children of God lies in our imitation of Him as little children. It’s intimate, a one-on-one learning journey of daily transformation.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. (Ephesians 5:1)
One of my great joys is having a ‘share’ in the life of a certain precious little girl. Being a kind of ‘honorary’ granny is a real blessing. As I watch this little toddler change daily, growing into her delightful personality, I see her learning from those around her. She’s like a little sponge, soaking it all up and then reproducing it in her own way. Every day, we see responses and mannerisms that are ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ and chuckle at her faithful reproduction. We can see what she’s learned and from whom. The same is true of the children of God, but only if we live as we shoudl.
Our position as children of God.
We hear a lot preached about being ‘heirs to the promises’ and our ‘position in Christ.’ These are real truths and it’s good that we know them and hold onto them. But underlying all of this is the unique privilege that spiritual rebirth brings us. When we are born again in Spirit, we move from the realm of the flesh to the family of God. We become children of God. Unfortunately, we seem to focus on the authority or the other ‘grown up’ blessings this involves. Father God is a powerful, comforting, and essential part of our faith. Knowing God as Father is as essential as knowing Him as I AM and as Lord.
But there are two sides of being children of God. The one most focused on is that of the advantages of having God as Abba but this limits the relationship. The other side, all too often overlooked, is what this role expects from us. Matthew 18:3 puts this into perspective: and said, Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. This verse is often misquoted as ‘come as little children.’ It actually says we must become as little children. There’s a big difference.
What does being children of God entail?
First of all, there’s a distinct ‘generational’ differentiation. God’s the Dad, we’re the kids. That makes Him the boss, the authority in the relationship. What He says goes. That’s the fundamental nature of the relationship children of God have with Abba. We quickly forget what we expect of our children when it comes to reversing the relationship roles with God. We want to be adult kids, all grown up and making our own rules and choices.
Then, secondly, it’s a relationship of learning. It is through the intimacy allowed us as children of God that we see God. We interact with Him. As we do, we are expected to imitate or emulate Him as a child does their parents. It’s the instinctive nature of every child to want to ‘be like’ Mom or Dad. The desire is wired into us and it’s the very impetus of our childhood learning. As children of God, this is the drive and desire He wants from us.
Being children of God means letting go of self.
None of us really wants to relinquish all the hard-learned lessons that have formed us into the adults we are. There’s a kind of inner protest at letting go of everything that brought us this far. We seemed to spend half our lives working towards being ‘grown up,’ only to now be expected to go back to the beginning. Self – that ornery inner rebellious side of us – constantly fights against the reality of being children of God.
In a sense, though, it’s something of a relief – a kind of second chance, a spiritual ‘do-over.’ We have the opportunity, as children of God, to start again. No matter what our parents or childhood was, we now have a perfect Dad. He loves us beyond imagining, and wants only the best for us. His desire is that we be ‘remade’ in His image which is His purpose for us from the beginning of creation. This is our opportunity to truly be a new creation. All the sins, mistakes, omissions, and wrong choices are gone, washed away by grace and the blood of the lamb. Self will persist in protesting and hanging on, but there lies tremendous relief and power in accepting new life, even if it’s without the so-called ‘privileges’ of hardened adulthood.
The characteristics of children of God.
The things we struggle with are always those which deprive self of its power. The same is true when we look at the characteristics that define the children of God. Top of the list, perhaps, is humility. It takes a good dollop of humbleness to accept that we’re now kids, not big people. We are nothing, know nothing, and have a lifetime of learning and growing ahead. The same frustrations and expectations we experienced growing up are back – we want to be ‘grown up’ but have a long way to go.
Hand in hand with humility is obedience, and oh, this chaffs terribly for mature, independent people. We pride ourselves on how far we’ve come, what we’ve achieved, and how we did things our way and through our own effort. Children of God must have the same total obedience we expect from our children. Remember when ‘because I say so’ pushed all our buttons? It’s even worse now that we’re adults and have had the ‘say so’ for so many years. But obedience is not negotiable if we wish to live as children of God.
The greatest privilege of being children of God.
Overcoming our human reluctance to fully engage in our role as children of God brings a great reward – learning from God Himself. One of the greatest aspects of Jesus’ ministry was that of teacher. Wherever He went and whatever He did, He turned those into ‘learning moments.’ His disciples learned from Him in a daily, ‘hands on’ relationship. They learned by emulating what He did, which is what we have the opportunity to do. There is no greater power for learning than seeing a master in action and receiving personal, one-on-one teaching. That is the incredible privilege we have as children of God.
Our Abba is not distant or an absent Father. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to teach and to guide. Our spiritual ‘do over’ – new life in Christ – is a dynamic and exciting opportunity. Humility and obedience open this door, and they’re a small price to pay for the amazing rewards of being taught and nurtured by the almighty God of the universe. Our perfect Father invests all He is – His time, His power, His wisdom, His knowledge – into shaping us to be the mature children He always intended us to be.
The fundamental purpose of children of God.
All this brings us to a powerful truth. As born-again, Spirit-filled believers, we must be imitators of God. The focus of our Christian walk is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. This is, after all, how we were created – in God’s image. Our fundamental purpose as children of God is to reveal Jesus, and through Him, the Father, to the world. There’s a very true statement that says we may well be the only Bible some people get to read. For the world, we must be a reflection of the ‘living Word.’
Which brings us back to self and the sobering questions the children of God must ask themselves daily. When others look at me, can they see who I imitate? Is it my Father, or is it the world? Do they see God, or do they see the influence of fleshly role models or world-shaped independence? Today’s verse isn’t a recommendation. It’s an imperative. It’s something we must ‘be.’ There is no place, if we desire the privileges of a child, for the independence of adult self.
Children of God are hungry to learn.
We laugh when we encounter the inevitable ‘whys’ of children. But this is how children learn. They hunger and thirst for knowledge. They want to learn everything that comes their way. There is an excitement and exuberant joy in learning that the children of God lack. I believe that is because we lose sight of the incredible intimacy we have in this one-on-one learning journey with God. When we set self aside and come with humility and obedience, He has an endless store of spiritual treasures He will personally impart to His children.
If we truly desire to know God and to live a full and abundant life, we must become as little children. When we are teachable, Abba will walk beside us as Jesus did with His disciples. It’s not drudgery or hardship. It’s the daily joy of learning as we see the intimacy, the love, the power, and the glory of God unfolding in our lives.
All things are possible for children of God.
As children of God, let’s take hold of this grace and enter the most exciting and fulfilling journey of our new lives. The opportunities are limitless, the potential unimaginable, and the intimacy with our Abba is a treasure beyond price. He is the God who holds this universe in His hands. But He is also our Father. Our inheritance in Christ as children of God is so much greater than the obvious. It’s an intimate opportunity to enter into a relationship that transcends our limitations. All things are possible with God.
Lord, give us a hunger and thirst to learn, and the grace to set self aside and become like little children. Thank You that You’re not a ‘far away’ God but are beside is Spirit and in Truth, teaching us intimately as we learn to imitate Your example in all things. Thank You for the awesome privilege that we are chosen to become Your reflection in a dying world.