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We are Children of God April 19, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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1 John 3:1-7

Third Sunday of Easter

April 19, 2015

 

Focus:  God is giving us new birth in the blood and image of His Son.

Function:  That the hearers purify themselves through water and the Word.

Structure:  Walking through the text.

 

We are Children of God

 

It’s a question that’s always nagging at us.  It’s always there.  Sure, it may sound a little different for each of us, and it might change a little as we move through different points in our lives, but it’s always there.  Who am I and who do I want to be?

When we’re really little, that’s as simple as what would you like to do this summer?  What do you want to be when you grow up?  And as we start growing up, the question changes just a little.  What do you want to study?  What do you want to do with your life?  What job do you see yourself in when you graduate?  Those are some of the very questions that our 10th graders wrestled with this week at their milestone.

And then it just continues.  Do you want to have a family?  Where would you like to live?  How do you see yourself in retirement?  And on and on it goes.  We all have these questions.  We’re constantly looking forward to the person we want to become and to the things we want to achieve.

Our text actually provides the answer, God’s answer to our question.  John begins “see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

It’s so important, he emphasizes it three times in these two verses.  “That we should be called children of God; and so we are…Beloved, we are God’s children now.”  There’s something here, there’s something important and exciting here.  There’s something familial here.  The words “Father” and “children” connect us together.

There’s something to this because of how it happened.  You and I weren’t born this way.  You and I didn’t simply arrive as part of God’s family.  It’s really quite the opposite.  We were born in darkness.  We were born in sin.  There’s nothing good here, nothing but brokenness.  So that’s what makes this idea that we’re children of God so remarkable.  It came at a cost.

It’s certainly worth noting that John doesn’t call us sons of God.  Nowhere in his gospel, his letters, or Revelation.  That word, that relationship for John is reserved for only One, the Son of God.  We like to think of family resemblances, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or we might look at a child and say they have their mother’s eyes.  This is why John reserves the word Son for Jesus and only Jesus.

It’s because in Him, we have the living, dying and rising again image of God.  Perfect.  The very things that make the Father God are the things we see in Christ.  No darkness, only light.  No sin, only righteousness.  No hatred, only love.  From beginning to end and then some.  He is the spitting image of His Father.

So this is what makes John’s statement so different, so exciting, so worthy of repeating over and over again.  That we might be called children of God doesn’t just happen.  We don’t deserve it and it certainly didn’t come easy.

We were broken.  We were walking in the darkness and had to be rescued, to be brought into the light.  We were living a lie, and had to be redeemed to know the truth.  We were deceiving ourselves by saying that we have no sin, and had to be brought to repentance.  We weren’t born this way, we had to be reborn.

And that is where we come to the promise, the promise that God made to us that where there is water and the Word, there is new life.  Nicodemus might’ve been really confused when Jesus told him that he must be reborn.  He thought it meant he had to crawl back into his mother’s womb.  But it’s the water and the Word that grants rebirth.

It’s because of these promises, promises given to us by God Himself, it’s because of these that we baptize Joseph and Harrison today.  It’s because of these that you came to the font to be baptized.  For it’s right here, it’s right here that God has promised you new life.  It’s right here that He looked at you and said, “You are My child, whom I love.”

The things that we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks really matter.  It’s the Son’s sacrifice on Good Friday that makes that possible.  It’s the Son’s blood that enables your sins to be washed away in your baptism.  It’s the Son’s rising again on Easter morning that enables you to be reborn.  That was the cost.  The Son laid down His life so that you could be part of the family.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.”  We’ve been adopted.  We’ve been made part of the family.

And in the end, when Christ returns, when we see Him face to face, we will live it in the fullest.  When we see Jesus, when we look at the very image of God, that, John says, that’s when we’ll fully be children of God.  That’s when we will fully live in His image, no more darkness, only light.  No more sin, only righteousness.  No more hatred, only love.

And at that point, each and every one of you, even the most difficult of you, will be a joy and a privilege to live with forever, even me.  We are children of God now, and we will be like the Son.

But until then, until then we have to fight.  We have work to do.  John calls on us to purify ourselves, to practice righteousness.  If you’re tempted, purify yourself.  If you’re struggling with substance abuse, purify yourself.  If you’re struggling with rage or deceit, purify yourself.  If you’re wrestling with apathy and just not caring anymore, purify yourself.  If you’re drowning in your own ego and self-centeredness, purify yourself.

Take these struggles, these temptations, these sins and hand them over to the cleansing blood of the Son, the Son who willingly died for you so that you could be part of the family.  Turn away from the darkness, and turn to the light.  That’s the very definition of repentance.

Do not make a practice of sinning.  Stop, cease, desist.  Interrupt it, get in the way of Satan’s plan.  You are not his.  You are a child of God.  That makes us a family, a community, together.  And so we love one another, we respect one another, we honor one another.  We give to one another, we hold one another accountable and responsible.

That goes back to the idea of purifying ourselves. We’re a community, we’re a family, we’re in this together.  It’s in the act of being a community of being a family that we hold each other accountable.  Think about your own family, holding your brother accountable for something or holding your child accountable for something; we are that way as a church, as a family, as God’s family.

And I truly pray that if I were ever stuck in some kind of sin and you called me out for it, I pray that you would call me out for it, but I also pray I would be enough to be able to stand in your presence and say “You’re right, Father, forgive me for I have sinned.”  We are accountable to one another.

In that way, we can be a community of light, not of darkness.  Now, we are the children of God.  And someday, we will be like Jesus, when we have seen Him face to face.  Who am I?  What will I become?  I am a child of God, and what that fully looks like, we will soon find out.

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