Thursday, November 2, 2017

Love Makes Us Children of God

One of the refrains to which I return frequently in my sermons is to remind us that we are children of God. Even though the parental metaphor brings some baggage with it, it seems to resonate with most of us. When we hear someone say, "You are God's daughter," or "You are God's son," it opens up to us the possibility that we are loved by our Creator in a real, relational way. And, as we see in the reading from 1 John 3 on All Saints' Day/Sunday, it is God's love that has made us God's children: "See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are."

This is a different sort of childhood. When I meet with godparents for some instruction before a baptism, I borrow from my boss in Montgomery and remind them that, while most children grow up expecting their parents to love them, a godparent has the opportunity to remind the baptismal candidate of God's unconditional love by being another non-parental adult in his/her life who loves for no reason except love's sake. That's how God loves us--not because he has to or because of some societal expectations but because God does, because it's God's nature. God does not love us because we are God's children. We are God's children because God loves us.

John reminds us, "The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know [God]." Those who know what it means be children of God know what it means to be loved beyond one's lovability. The world, by which John means everyone else, has a hard time seeing that. It's hard to believe that one can be loved like a child by one who is not a parent. It's hard to know a love like that when such a love makes no sense.

I love my children because they are my children, but we are God's children because he loves us. The love comes before the relationship. The love invites the relationship. Our belonging to God is not a product of our birth or of our behavior. We are God's children because God loves us. That means our relationship with God doesn't depend on us. It depends on God. There's nothing we can do to get more of God's love, and there's nothing we can do to lose the love he has for us.

We should be called children of God, for that is what we are. Why? Because of the love that God has given us. We have been chosen by God as God's children, and God has chosen us out of love.

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