Is EVERYONE a child of God?
It’s a paradoxical question because it’s true in one sense yet false in another. It’s true that God is our father by virtue of the fact he is our creator. It’s false in the sense that our sin separates us from him. Our sin puts us in a place where we’re not God’s children; we’re his enemies. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10)
How Are We Adopted?
We become God’s children because he adopts into His family through our relationship with Jesus Christ. He decided in advance to adopt us into his family by uniting us through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5) So in Christ Jesus, you are all children of God through faith.” (Galatians 3:26)
A teacher was once discussing adoption with a class of first graders. One little girl raised her hand and said, “I can tell you what adoption is.” The teacher agreed, “Well, go right ahead.”
The girl said, “I’m adopted. My mom explained it to me. She told me, ‘it’s when a child grows in your heart instead of in your tummy.'” That’s a pretty good description of adoption. God has had you growing in his heart for years.
A Fresh Start
Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 5:15-16).
If you study adoption in Roman culture, it was a powerful word. The adopted person lost all of his or her rights in their former family, but they gained all the rights of a legitimate child in their new family. They became an heir to their father’s estate. Even if there were natural born children in that family, they were considered equal co-heirs of the estate.
Roman culture also put one’s past behind them once they are adopted. This means any existing debts were erased, and they received a fresh start. In the eyes of the Roman law, an adopted child is the given child of his parents. There’s no footnote and no asterisk.
And this is precisely what happens when God adopts us.
I love that God offers to adopt us because adoption means a parent chose that child. When I was born, my parents didn’t choose me. They couldn’t ask to see another. They couldn’t send me back. I was not selected.
As a parent myself, I try to always make my kids feel chosen. I have a long tradition of saying to my kids, when I put them in bed, “if I could line up all the five-year-olds in the whole world, and I could only choose one, I would choose you.” Macy, my youngest, is not very sentimental. When she was younger, she would roll her eyes and say, “You HAVE to say that.” One time she even said, “If you didn’t choose me, they would MAKE YOU take me because I’m your daughter.”
I didn’t ask her who “they” were, but she’s right. They would make me take her. I try to make my kids feel chosen, but the truth is, I didn’t pick them.
When parents adopt a child, they pick that child. Adoption is compelling because it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not done by force, and it’s not a requirement. If you’ve been adopted, you have intentionally been chosen.
That’s what God has done for us, even after we made him our enemy. He knew the sum total of all our sins. He knew all of our bad habits. He knew the messy lives we would live and the poor decisions we would make. Despite all that, he said, “I choose you.” That’s what God has done for us.
Transformed By Love
The sentiment, “we’re all God’s children,” might sound nice, but it isn’t very impressive. God doesn’t depend on us to be his children but he wants us to be. He doesn’t force us, but he gives us the freedom to choose. And God doesn’t choose us because of anything we have or haven’t done. He chooses us only because he loves us.
I can recall the testimony of a man who had struggled with alcoholism. It was so bad his kids had been taken away from him. He was on the brink of losing everything. But then something turned everything around.
He was still struggling but attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He was scheduled to share his story at one of the meetings. His dad found out and flew into town to be there. At the meeting, this man stood in front of the whole group and confessed everything. He felt awful. Then his father stood up and addressed the room. He said, “I have never loved my son as much as I do at this moment. I love him. And I want all of you to know I love him.”
That’s what did it. He thought, “If my dad can love me that way, that means God can love me that way. Maybe I can do this.” His life changed that day, all because of the love of his father. Everything can turn around in our lives when we understand the genuine love of our heavenly father.
A Better Truth
The Bible teaches us that all of humanity was fashioned in his image, but it’s also clear that only those who are reborn through Jesus are children of God. So, are all humans children of God? No, the truth, as it turns out, is far better than that.
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