The Spirit itself, along with our Spirit, testifies that we are God’s children.Romans 8:16
John of the Cross (1542-91) was a Carmelite monk in the Order of Teresa of Avila.
He formulated God’s goal with man as follows:
What God strives for is to make us gods through participation, as He is God by nature.
God wants us to share in what He experiences and is in the Trinity. He wants us to be devoted and lovable, true and creative like God.
Again, along with John of the Cross in a very free translation, we can say that man will participate in God himself, as an addition to the Holy Trinity, cooperating in their works.
What a vision. Megalomania? I do not think so. Arrogance? Not a moment.
Why am I saying this?
We humans want our children to become adults. We want them to become independent, viable creatures able to love just as we are. We want them to be able to bring their talents and strengths to fruition in the community, so that they can help shape the future creatively.
Why do we assume that God creates children for whom he plans to worship him forever? Mutual appreciation, praise from both sides, that is part of every healthy father-child relationship, but only absolutely traditional, patriarchal, and, forgive the choice of words, narcissistic people see praise as a one-way street from child to father.
God has beings who worship him. We call them angels. The distinction was often made that we worship God voluntarily, out of love and faith, while the angels do not have this choice.
And yet there are angels in the biblical teaching who have fallen. They have decided against God. This tells me that angels have free will. Free will is a prerequisite for love. Sure, they know that God exists, so they don’t need faith. Yet the fallen angels believed that the devil could win against God. Faith in the devil?
The argument of voluntary worship therefore does not seem logically tenable–provided we want to maintain the existence of angels and demons and their origins. But that’s another topic.
Voluntary worship out of love and faith is thus too short of an explanation for the question why God calls people His children.
I have often wondered whether we humans want more for our children than God for his children. A strange thought, I know. (I have a lot of them.)
God has placed in our hearts the desire that our children become like us or even better. We only wish the best for our children. He also somewhat gave us the idea that we live on in our children in a certain way.
This used to be very practical when the father handed over the business to the son, and the son imitated the father as a young boy with the tool belt around his waist.
Today our desires are often on a meta level. As I said, we want our children to be able to develop their full potential for themselves and for society.
So does God. He calls us children because he sees the potential in us that we become equal to him by participation as he is by nature.
So what is this difference that surely exists?
Let’s look at Adam. Created directly from God, he had no earthly father or mother. He was human by nature. We, as his descendants, participate in being human through birth. But are we different from Adam? Not in most aspects.
God calls us children. He often calls us sons. A son in the Jewish tradition is a child who was declared a partner at 30. The father took his son into the city gates to the elders when he was 30 and said: “This is my son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”
From this point on, the word of the son was as valuable as the word of the father. And please forgive me the unfortunate, yet historically correct patriarchal view.
God calls us children. Sons in the making.
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.Romans 8:14
To be led by the Spirit of God, according to Paul, allows us to be sons of God already here on earth.
What does the statement mean “led by the Spirit of God”?
A child is led by the father and mother. Their voice, and sometimes their hand, dictate, and the child responds with more or less obedience.
An adult son, an adult daughter on the other hand, is led by the spirit of father and mother. These are the principles that are consolidated within and that have shaped the son and daughter through education and example.
As Paul says: But we have the thinking of Christ. Isaiah says it differently: I want to make another, a new covenant with them, in which I will write my law in their hearts.
Both words, the ones translated here with thinking or heart, include thinking, feeling, will, being, life, our innermost. Our humanity.
Who doesn’t know the inner voice that rebukes us? For some, it even sounds like the mother’s voice. We often call this voice conscience, and all too often we call it the speaking of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes it is even true, as the father of an adult son does not stop talking to his son, even though it will be more advice than admonitions.
Every man is always a son–except, in a very real sense, Adam, who was created as a man and not as a boy. The image of God the Father with us as children wonderfully reflects this relationship. God has always been and we will be forever.
Why are we limiting ourselves to the cheap copy that we see as our future? Worship in eternity like the angels, only that our debut was more difficult because we started in faith and not in sight?
Knowing the goal and having the tools to walk that path is all we need. The goal is to be gods in participation, in perfect unity. The tool is to live out the thinking of Christ, to have the new covenant in the heart and to act accordingly.
It is not always about obedience and sinlessness, but about growth, and obedience and sinlessness are tools for this. It’s not about morality and ethics, it’s about love, and morality and ethics are a start. It’s not about watching and admiring, it’s about participating.
Or as was said: clean up, wake up, grow up, show up.