One of the most comforting, loving and compassionate images of God in the Bible is found in Romans Chapter Eight, where the Apostle Paul explains in great detail what it is like to be a part of the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the language of sonship, "Abba", heirs, and adoption to describe the intimate nature of the relationship we have with God because of Jesus.
From an Abusive House to A House of Peace and Love.
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15 NIV)
As slaves to sin we have all lived in an abusive atmosphere. Make no mistake about it, the devil himself has abused you and me with countless acts of harassment, accusation, self-harm, self-destruction, self-degradation, abomination, guilt, hatred, shame, abuse of others, and so much more. Satan is an abusive spirit. When you come to Christ you are no longer subjected to that abuse. Paul tells us that our Father in Heaven does not deal in fear. God doesn't wield fear before us, nor does He ever subject us to intentionally abusive things. We are no longer sons of the devil! We are sons of God the Father and have been snatched out of an abusive house and placed into a house of peace and love.
From the view of a child... Imagine the freedom you would feel knowing that your days of abuse were over and that you now lived in an environment on peace and love and trust with a Father who would never abuse you. Adopted kids realize that family is more than biology... family is a term reserved for those who love intentionally and have the child's best interests at heart.
From a House of Thievery to a House of Abundance.
Abused children know what it's like to have things stolen from them. Childhood, opportunity, inheritance, dignity, innocence, and sanity can all be stolen from us. There is nothing your abuser can take from you that God will not repay multiple times over in His house of abundance. The Father does not give as the world gives, but He surpasses what was stolen.
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17 NIV) Paul says that we actually have a status as co-heirs with Christ! What kind of inheritance is Jesus receiving? Those of us who are in Christ will share in that inheritance. God doesn't deal in thievery. God deals in abundance. God doesn't deal in treasures where "moth and rust destroy," He deals in the treasures found in the storehouse of heaven.
From the view of a child... Unexpectedly and beautifully, the Father will begin to not only stop the stealing, but begin the investment of abundance in them. Imagine the joy of the child who would probably be content to just be safe and free from the abuse and the thievery, but then begins to receive abundance on top of that!
From a House of Loss to a House of Victory.
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Romans 8:37 NIV)
The devil takes advantage of helplessness and humiliates people in their weakness. God deals in elevation, strength, and edification. He helps us in our weakness and gives us "more-than-conqueror" status through our adoption. Before Christ we were losers, even though we might be winners in the world's eyes. In Christ we are winners even though we might be losers in the world's eyes. Those who have the world's fame and fortune know what kind of fight it is to maintain that. Those who are adopted can rest because their status of "son" is not something you have to fight for every day.
From the view of a child... Language of humiliation vanishes in God's house. Setups for failure and false promises all go away. Imagine being sure that every action your adoptive Father takes is truly in your best interest. Amazing!
From a House of Insecurity to a House of Assurance.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39 NIV) Abused children know what it is like to have to perform properly to try to earn the "love" of their abusive parent. In God's house, His adopted children need not perform in order to receive love. His love is present and decided ahead of time. The devil wants us insecure and edgy, not knowing the next target to hit for approval. God wants us secure and steadfast in the knowledge and experience of His unconditional love.
From the view of a child... Children who are loved unconditionally are secure, not spoiled; loved, not rejected; treasured, not used; formed, not manipulated. As a child in God's house, we can know, sense, experience, and live freely within such a great love.
Adoption ... beautiful.
The most precious things about you are to be devoted to God. The best, the most valuable, the most useful, the brightest, the most productive, the most influential, the well-tuned skills, the best of your mind and body are all to be devoted to God. If this is true (and it is) why do we give Him mostly leftovers and table scraps?
When the Israelites took Jericho they were told by God to save the articles of gold and silver and bronze. Those items, God said, were to be devoted to Him and taken into the Temple treasury.
"But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the LORD and must go into his treasury."
(Joshua 6:18-19 NIV)
God give Jericho to the Israelites. He gave them miraculous power and force to tear down the walls without ever touching them. He gave them favor to go in to put to death every living thing with the sword. And He commanded them to return the most precious articles in their city to the treasury of God. This idea of devoted things is not negated in the New Testament. Jesus is quite clear about the needed devotion of His followers when He tells us the two greatest commandments... Love God with out whole heart, mind and strength, and to Love our Neighbor as ourselves.
Today, however, too may people misuse the concept of love to be merely emotion. If we have the right emotion for God then we think we have that commandment covered. However, love as merely an emotion is a great lie... one of the greatest lies of the devil. Today we have trouble in marriages and relationships because of this reality: Emotion with no Devotion.
Is your relationship with God based on emotion or devotion?
We know that in Jesus there is no lack in His Kingdom... but we also know that the treasury of the Kingdom of God is the people of the Kingdom. A devoted heart, hard after God, has no issues with earthly treasure and devotes not only earthly treasures, but the living sacrifice of their own lives, to Jesus.
Devotion means nothing is held back.
Devotion means different priorities.
Devotion means intentional sacrifice.
Devotion means your best is God's. period.
Today, reflect on your own relationship with God and determine to be not just a person of emotional love toward God, but a person of true devotion to God.
Have you ever wondered what would have become of Eden had Eve and Adam eaten from the Tree of Life first and obeyed God? Eden was but one small location within a very large earth and the first two humans were told to have dominion over the earth and to multiply and fill it. Eden was perfect and yet incomplete. It was designed to expand.
God gives us starting points for exploration, then sends us into the wonder and mystery of uncovering what we find. He does this, I believe, because there is something inherently good about the process of seeking and finding. A need in us is actually met; a yearning is satisfied when we seek and explore; uncover and study the depths of God.
I have come to learn that this is true of God's prophetic words as well. When God gives a vision, it is our own personal Eden. It is a starting point, then calls us and draws us to a great exploration of what He wants to reveal to us. God's words are intriguing and mystifying. They are full of hints and lures. They calls us deeper into the mystery of who He is. They call us deeper into the mystery of who we are. God knows that we learn the best lessons through discovery.
When I was a kid, our family got a new riding lawn mower. The old one had broken down, so, after the purchase was made, the old one was given to me to tear apart and explore. I loved tearing apart that old lawn mower, looking inside every nook and corner to see what made that thing tick. I believe God wants us to do the same thing with His Kingdom. Pentecost was perfect and yet incomplete. It was designed to expand.
"Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end." (Isaiah 9:7a NIV)
We are agents of increase.
We are explorers.
We are seekers and discoverers.
We are agents of multiplication.
We are made more mature in Christ through searching and finding.
We are made for pondering and reflecting.
We are designed to dig and uncover.
Perhaps God has spoken to you with a still, small voice. He gives you a vision or a single word. Have you ever pondered that word searching it relentlessly for meaning and layers of implications? God alone does this kind of good work. He knows us better than we know ourselves. If you've received a word and yet have not explored it, I would encourage you to do so. He's calling you into something deeper if you will explore it.
I pray today that you will be changed by what is revealed as you explore the mysteries of God.
Jesus only has one Kingdom. Is Christ divided? Is Christ denominated? Are His thoughts or ways double-minded or split in their meaning? Of course not. While so many seek to establish their own kingdoms (little "k"), I still believe that Jesus wants us building His Kingdom (Big "K"). From my observations, those who concern themselves with Big K ministry are the most fruitful.
Big K Christians build what Jesus intended to build.
Jesus said, "I will build my church." He's building, and we're on the labor force. He owns the vineyard, and we've been hired to tend it. He bought humanity with His blood and we proclaim it. All authority has been given to Him and we share in it by being called. When we leave the mindset of building churches and move into the mindset of building the Kingdom of God, Jesus blesses it! Big K Christians are looking to build the Kingdom every day, in every location, with any person, at every opportunity, led by the Holy Spirit, and always watchful.
Big K Christians create unity in the Body of Christ.
Everything in Christ is whole and unified. Nothing is divided. The Holy Trinity is united, all of creation works in harmony, and so should it be with the Body of Christ. Big K Christians seek unity and wholeness in the body of Christ. They don't draw boundaries or issue sanctions based on human boundaries or definitions. A Kingdom of all nations unifies the human race across all lines... slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female. If we're building what Jesus wants us to build, then unity is implied.
Big K Christians don't care who get's the credit.
Big K Christians don't parade their accomplishments. If they build the Kingdom and the people who come into the Kingdom don't attend their local church, they experience no anxiety over that... only joy. People who seek credit are self-seeking. People who seek the Kingdom are ... well, Kingdom seeking and nothing else matters. As a pastor, I'm not after anyone else's church members and I can't stress is someone from my church moves or leaves or changes location. Jesus is in control and I will also work tirelessly to see to it that other ministry efforts flourish. Why? Big K.
Big K Christians understand God's economy of things.
Since Christ has one Kingdom, He also has one pool of resources from which to operate. If He directs our church to give something away, then we somehow receive. You simply can't outgive God! This is not the prosperity gospel that promises checks in your mailbox if you plant a financial seed, but rather God's economy ... that if you give away for the sake of the Kingdom, then you will receive as you seek to build the Kingdom. Your excess isn't yours to keep and your need isn't your issue. Trust enough to lavish your resources on the Kingdom and trust enough for God to meet your needs. Big K Christians don't fret over who's got the money and they don't store up endowments to ensure that what they have built will continue. God is not the Great "I will be," He is the Great "I Am." He is omnipresent.
Big K Christians "Get it."
Because of all this, big K Christians just simply "get it." They see the world as Jesus wants it to be seen. They see harvest everywhere. They see Kingdom opportunity everywhere. They rejoice when every true Kingdom fellowship flourishes and hurt when they hurt. They understand that they have freely received, so they freely give.
Are you a Big K Christian?
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.
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