John F. Kennedy’s children used to play under his desk while he worked in the oval office as President of the United States. Here was a man who was one of the most powerful men in the world and perhaps one of the most highly protected. He was surrounded by secret service and dealing with some of the most demanding problems in the world. And yet, his children could walk right past the layers of security into their Father’s reassuring presence. They could do so confidently and without reservation. Why? because they were his children.
The book of Romans says,
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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 Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans
Being a child of someone has certain privileges, like John F Kennedy Jr. exercised playing under his daddy’s desk. Being a child also has responsibilities.
Access – Like John F. Kennedy, Jr. had access to his father, you have a certain intimate access to God that defies reason. God is a supreme being, creator of heaven and earth. God is almighty, omnipotent, and eternal. Even your loftiest thoughts of God at the outer most edges of your imagination, are a shadow of the depth of reality of who God is, and yet, God makes us family. God allows us the privilege of being allowed to cry out ‘Abba, Father’.
You can come to God with you deepest concerns, your greatest joys, or just come wanting the reassurance of God’s presence. Sometimes as children we just need to be held to know that things are going to be okay.
When my daughter was very young, perhaps seven or eight years old, she was playing on a wrought iron rail when she lost her balance and struck her chin against part of the railing. It split her chin wide open and required stitches. She was crying and afraid, until someone came and got me. Could I stitch her chin up or take away her pain. No, but just my presence helped her realize, everything was going to be okay.
As I write this my daughter is now grown and in Switzerland for a three month adventure. She is staying in someone’s home, but is basically living on her own. Even as a very accomplished young adult, she has moments when she feels out of place and alone in a foreign land. She is a sojourner. In those moments, we skype and the edge is immediately taken off those anxieties. It’s a touch of home. She is reminded that her status in Switzerland is just a short adventure that will come to an end soon. She’s reminded that she has a place where she is loved and can return to anytime. Which brings me to the next privilege of childhood — having a home.
A Home – children of God have an eternal home. We’re really just sojourners here. At times, we may feel the weight of that. This place, this temporal life, isn’t always a place where the values of our home are upheld. The unconditional grace of our true home, heaven, is missing when we are treated unfairly at work. The eternal assurance of being provided for is threatened when a natural disaster or unfortunate turn of events pulls apart our earthly security. In these moments, prayer can be a skype call to our true home. Prayer can remind us, that this is just a short adventure and if it’s hard now, that will pass.
Upholding The Family Name — When my father was a young man, perhaps 19 or so, his father died in a tractor accident on the farm. His death left a debt that my grandmother could not resolve alone. The Arnold name and word had always been good. My father who had moved on and was working while going to school intervened. He stopped school, made sacrifices, and sent money home to protect the family name and his mother’s well-being by assuming and resolving the debt.
When you are part of a family, you’re a representative. Everything you say and do, reflects on your family. Paul instructed the Colossians, saying,
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17
I heard someone once say, “Your life may be the only Bible someone else ever reads.” How are you representing the family of God?
Bearing Burdens Together — My father made sacrifices for his mother. That’s part of being family. Paul wrote to the Galatians referring to them as his brothers. He implored them to bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) Also, in the passage from Romans that I mentioned above which spoke of being heirs, it continues on to say,
“and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:17
Respect and Obedience — One of the most basic responsibilities of a child is to be respectful toward his or her parents. Parents are in a position of life experience and wisdom that you don’t have when you are a child, particularly a young child. They are in a position of authority over you.
These things are even more true of your heavenly Father. God is wisdom and your wisdom is foolishness by comparison. This should humble your heart and lead you to a place of respect. God also provides for you in ways you cannot. You cannot work your way into his eternal grace. You cannot be good enough to wipe away your sin. You cannot work out your own salvation. But, your heavenly Father can do all of these things. So with respect you should come before God in humble obedience. You should trust and obey.
What other privileges and responsibilities can you think of that are yours as a child of God? Please share them in a comment below.
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Blessings to You,
John Arnold, The Practical Disciple