God accepts us fully1
God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
- from Galatians 4:4-6
Romans frequently practiced adoption as a strategy to preserve their legacy. But their adoption was not like ours.
Wealthy families adopted slaves or lower-ranking members of society when there was no male heir in the family. Generals adopted up-and-coming commanders to keep them loyal, control them and pass rank to a worthy successor. Senatorial families would adopt out their sons to strengthen political ties.
When the apostle Paul uses the adoption metaphor to describe what God has done for us through Christ, he has Roman adoption in mind, but also something deeper.
Roman adoption was all about legal status. When the adoption was finalized, the legal status of the adoptee shifts. New rights appeared, along with new obligations. But this didn’t mean there was affection or intimacy or love.
Adoption in Roman times almost always benefitted the one doing the adopting. Healthy men or older boys would be adopted. But if you were young or sick or female … slim chance. Adoption was based on status or merit. There was no mercy or grace.
But not so with our good Father. He adopts us into his family – sparking for us a shift in legal status – and then sends his very Spirit into our hearts to help us cry out to him: “Abba, Father.”
He wants more for us than a shift in legal status. He wants us to experience intimacy with him, acceptance by him and love. He wants us to experience the same depth of connection with him that Jesus experiences. We are invited to fully join the family.
Have you experienced God’s full acceptance into his family? If not, what’s holding you back? If you have, what difference is this intimacy with God making in the way you engage with your biological and church families?