Everyone who realizes their association in him, convinced that he is their original life and that his name defines them, God gives the assurance that they are indeed his offspring, begotten of him; he sanctions the legitimacy of their sonship.John 1:12
You might know this verse in a more traditional translation and deduct from it that whosoever receives him will get the power to be called God’s child.
These traditional translations imply that we are somebody else’s child and have to do something to become God’s child, and that something is to believe on his name. That will allow for our adoption by God in a modern sense.
Several Greek constructs allow for a different translation, and I say allow and not call for because I am no Greek scholar.
The word for to receive can also mean to grasp, to get it, to understand, to identify with. And the verb form of to become is such that signifies completion in the past.
What now if this verse means that whoever identifies with the truth that he has become a child of God in his own origin, through creation, by design as the image of God, realizes that he is God’s child from the beginning? And God reaffirms that?
Does the bible ever say that we are children of the devil? Well, John 8:44 certainly implies that in traditional readings. I believe that it wants to tell us that the pharisees were offsprings of a diabolic mindset, which is a way to tell them that their thinking is wrong.
We could now say, well then, being God’s child just means that we think right.
But to think right or wrong is from the wrong tree. Being God’s child is a matter of life, not right or wrong.
Anthropos, the Greek word for humanity, actually means “upward manner/character”. Diabolos, the word for evil, means “through casting down” and signifies the thought system that humanity believes in of not being enough.
To believe that we have to fulfil a precondition to be God’s children is the same sin that Adam and Eve committed when they believed that they had to eat the fruit to become like God.
I interpret today’s verse like this:
When I, after so many centuries of the illusion that we are children of the evil one, finally identify with the truth that we are and have been since our own becoming God’s children, I am set back on the upward journey we are destined for.
The next thing I will recognize then is my destiny.
As sinners redeemed we only hope for salvation, and we settle for an eternity with him. This is more than we could ever hope for: to praise him for eternity for our salvation and his grace.
But then, we will eternally be his little children at most, but more likely his servants.
Little children have a phase during which their parents are superheroes and they brag about them in kindergarten all the time. But they never worship their parents day in and day out.
Parents never expect their children to worship them day in and day out either. That would be utmost narcissism and abusive.
Children grow up to be equals with gratefulness and mutual respect.
When I see my destiny as an eternal worshipper then, I deny my birthright in a slave mentality. Or I just decide to never grow up.
I actually still look at the relationship between God and me through the lens of right or wrong. Good boys and galls get to be with the father and worship him, bad boys and galls are doomed for eternity.
Let me show you another picture:
When I refuse to take the next step in my development, the things that want to teach me the next thing tend to come around again until I take up the challenge and grow.
Believing that I have to obey the law and the elders, the old covenant pattern, is such a step we undergo in life and belief. We learn to obey our parent and teachers and the rule of home, school, and country as well as learn to obey the rules and regulations of, in our case, the new covenant.
As children, we see that as a duty and a burden. As adults, we see parts of it as common sense, and parts as culture, necessary and unnecessary. We internalised the good and the bad of it, and have to cope with the consequences for a lifetime.
But once we start to believe like a child again, we are set free from strive and for destiny.
What do I mean by that? Children know that they are loved. If they would not, they could not grow. They need this inner security to test the boundaries and stretch their territory. This is why children in families that lack trust and love will not develop as they should, as much as children that do not experience above rule setting, will grow up without boundaries.
But once we have built in boundaries, ethics and morals, we can and shall return to the knowledge that we are loved unconditionally.
Sadly enough, most Christians never take that step, and the church is caught up in the teaching of morals, obedience and boundaries to everybody, no matter how much they have grown.
We have decided that to become a moral obedient being is not only necessary, but the end all be all of God’s will for us. Worshipping God forever is the prize we attain for being a good boy.
One could argue now that maybe death is our passage to higher honor: to reign with God. But then, Ephesians tells us that we already sit with him in heavenly places and rule.
One might say that being a child of God truly is our destiny, and we will never outgrow this childlike state of obedience. But why then is the whole creation waiting for the mature sons to emerge?
It is time that we got up. It is time to recognize that keeping his commandments is not a precondition of loving him, but a necessary outcome. It’s not: he who loves me must keep my commandments, but will keep my commandments.
It is not, you shall not kill, but you will not kill if you have a relationship with God.
And we shall no longer be called servants, but friends.
There is no precondition to being a child of God, and there never has been. Since Jesus reclaimed our calling to reflect the father, we have the chance to grow past this development stage of morality and obedience.
All God did is provide life circumstances according to our momentary ability to grasp to project us forward in the upward manner that is mankind’s calling to bring us into our destiny–to become mature sons of God in this life and beyond.
What then are mature sons and daughters of God? They are part of God, He in us and we in Him, in oneness and preserving their own personality. Such that the trinity becomes a multitude.