Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Child of God

     Who are you? Who am I? This is a fundamental question that molds our view of how we see the world, our community, and ourselves. Songs, poems, books, and even small group curriculum have been written in an attempt to answer the question. Who am I?
     Often, we will answer that question by the people around us. I’m a wife, I’m a mother, a husband or father. I’m a daughter, a sister, a son, a brother, a friend. We answer by our jobs – I’m a teacher, a doctor, a homemaker, or any other occupation. Some identify by the things that have happened to them in their past – I’m a victim, a survivor, etc.

Have you ever thought about who God says you are? 
Our faith defines us as a Christian. But what else? 

     When we turn our lives over to God, He changes who we are. He gives us new identities simply because He loves us and He wants to mold us to His plans.
     You may have heard the song by Matthew West which starts with the words, "Hello my name is Regret". The enemy loves to whisper words into our lives – lies that too often we believe. And those lies hold us back and prevent us from experiencing life God’s way. Those lies can be defeated by truth. Truth is found in the song’s chorus. "Hello, my name is child of the one true God."
     We are children of God. I am a child of God. Take a look at John 1:12-13.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

     When we believe and turn our hearts to Him, we are given new life; we are born again. This is not a physical birth, it is a spiritual birth. We are born of God and at that moment of rebirth we are given the right to call ourselves Children of God.

So what does it mean to be a child of God? 

     In many ways, I think it is a lot like, well, like being a child. I think sometimes we grow up too much and we forget what it was like to be a child. And we don’t consider that this is how God sees us – as a much beloved child of His.

     Have you ever walked through the preschool area after church as parents are coming to pick up their children? It is a scene of organized, mass chaos as children run out with big grins, eager to show off a picture they colored or a lesson they learned. You’ll see parents scooping up their child with a hug and words of encouragement. This is how God wants us, His children to run to Him.
     Or have you ever attended a middle school or high school choir concert? They are great examples of jubilant worship full of youthful enthusiasm. This is how God wants us, His children, to shout joyfully to Him.
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.  Psalm 100:1

     Another lesson we can learn from the children around us is to be an imitator. One of my favorite childhood memories involves riding in the pick-up with my Dad. He would wave to people he knew as he drove by. Daddy did this funny little three-finger wave thing. I remember watching him and then practicing the move myself over and over. I so wanted to wave like my Daddy did. Matter of fact, I very much wanted to be just like him.
     As beloved children of God, we should want to be like God our Father.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.  Ephesians 5:1-2. 
     We are imitators of God as we walk in love. We have the wonderful example of Christ to follow. The Bible is filled with lessons that point us towards how to be like Him. We have the examples of those who have gone before us. As we learn what it means to live as a child of God, we are able to be examples to others. I know that there are women at my church that I look up to and whom I try to emulate because their Christian walk is so strong and I want to be like them. It is one reason that small groups are important. We may all be at different places in our walk and we have much to teach one another.

     Children also have a desire to grow up. Six year olds look forward to being ten year olds. Teenagers tend to think they are grown already. Children realize that they have the potential to be more than they are. A child can totally throw themselves into something. Whether it is sports, music, books, when they find something they are interested in they can become very caught up in it.
     There is a huge lesson here. God’s grace accepts us as we are, with all our sins and imperfections. But God wants us to change. He wants us to desire to be different. God has a plan for each of us and He wants us to be all in on that. It can be scary, especially when God’s plan seems so much different from your own. But once you become a child of God’s, He wants you to grow and He wants to use you. Whatever your life situation, whatever your age, whatever your ability, God will make you much more than you are. Sometimes this means letting go of the familiar and grabbing on to something new!

     Do you know how to make a child happy? Give them a wooden spoon and a metal pot. Or a large, empty box. My husband gave the children next door a cardboard stop sign on a stick. Those kids have spent hours amusing themselves (and us) playing Stop.
     I’ve heard it said that the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. (This is also true for women and girls.) As we get older, seems like we want things to be flashier, or bigger, or more expensive. So we buy smart phones and high-end gadgets, and God says consider the birds and consider the lilies.
 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable ou are than the birds!...Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  Luke 12:24, 27. 
     We try to find happiness with new cars, new house, new people, and God says learn to be content whatever your circumstances.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:11-13. 

     And finally being a child of God is to be protected and loved. There is a flight of stairs between the parking lot and one entrance of my church. I’ve watched many children run to the top of those stairs, stop, and stick one hand up in the air. To a small child those steps can seem big. They know they need help and they know that if they just reach out, then someone bigger will help them down. They don’t give this a lot of thought, the child just knows that help is close by and much needed.
     God is there for His children also. Do you know one of the most often repeated phrases in the Bible? “Do not fear.” Over three hundred times, God tells His people don’t be afraid. Not necessarily as a command, but as a loving reminder that He is bigger than whatever we are facing and if we will only reach out to Him like a child, then He will grab hold of our hand and help us.

     To be a child of God is to be joyful, to be an imitator, to have a desire to grow, to appreciate the simple, and to be loved.  To be a child of God is to know that, even when life gets scary, God the Father is always with us and He will never leave.
He will not fail you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

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