Romans 8:14-15. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
The late great preacher and author Brennan Manning has said, “We make our images of God and our images of God make us.”
What is your image of God?
White bearded mountain top guru?
Passive aggressive mother-in-law?
Do you see him as your abba? Your dad?
The great reality of our union with Christ is that, in him, we are now the adopted sons of God. He is our Abba Father. We have been given the Spirit of Adoption. Is any truth more comforting than this? God himself is our dad.
God as father is a bit of a hidden image in the Old Testament. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are made in God’s image, implying son-ship. In Exodus, the nation of Israel is the son that God will redeem from Egyptian bondage. Later, God enters into a covenant with King David, calling him his son. But, in general, the Hebrew people did not address God as “Father.” And the idea of calling him the far less reverent Abba, or Papa, or Dad – unheard of.
But then along came Jesus. Jesus constantly referred to God as his Father. His Abba. By twelve years old he knew he must do his Abba’s business. He taught us to pray to OUR Father in Heaven. He claimed perfect unity with the Father – “I and my Father are one.” He cried out to his Abba in the garden and on the cross.
Jesus lived deeply from son-ship. Son was his defining identity. Why? Because Father-Son is the eternal relationship in the Godhead. God did not become the father at the incarnation. And Jesus did not become the son at the incarnation. The incarnation revealed to the world the eternal Father and the eternal Son. The Son that, from eternity past, was in the bosom of the Father. And now, in Christ, this is OUR relationship to God. Jesus changed how we relate to God forever. He has transferred us from slaves to sons. Eternal sons and daughters. Forever in his bosom.
And our entrance into the relationship of the Father and Son is made possible by the Spirit. The Spirit of Adoption. In the culture of Paul’s day, it was quite common to take an adult slave and adopt him as your son, giving him full the rights of son-ship – freedom, access, inheritance, and intimacy. And this is what has happened to us in Christ. We have been transferred from slavery into son-ship. We, the prodigals offering ourselves as slaves, have been made co-heirs with Christ our older brother. We wear his ring. His robe. His sandals. We eat at his table feast. We live in his identity as God’s sons.
And we cry out Abba Father! This is our freedom cry. The cry of love. God has chosen to love us. He has chosen to adopt us. We are perfectly loved. And perfect love casts out all fear. Now we go boldly into the inner chamber of the house. Into the presence of the Father, where only a true son could enter. Never a slave. We go knowing who we are. Knowing we are free and we are loved.
I know many of us have had less than perfect dad experiences. So imagining God as an Abba Father can be very difficult for us. But grace empowers what faith demands. God is our dad. Just as he is Christ’s dad. To call God Abba Father is to demonstrate great faith. It is to have received great grace.
I’m not sure where you’re coming from today. Maybe you’ve never felt the love of a good father. Maybe your mom and dad saw parenting as more of a chore than a glorious privilege. Maybe you missed out on love and don’t feel like you have been worthy of love. Maybe there is a small part (or a big part) of you that wishes you were never born.
Take hold of hope today. Take hold of love. The kind of love that would adopt slaves like us and make us sons.
“To live is Christ” makes us the desired, wanted, adopted sons of God. Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are in Christ you are a son. An heir. A co-heir with Christ. And your son-ship is the truth behind everything that makes life worth living. Intimacy – that’s son-ship. Impact – that’s son-ship. Identity – that’s son-ship. Glory – that’s son-ship. And one day, victory – that’s son-ship!
Revelation 21:7. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
Is your life powered by your identity of son-ship?
You in Christ
How does son-ship in Christ allow you to trust God as your father today?
Christ in you
How might trusting in your son-ship change how you actually live today?
Playlist: Abba! Father!