Thought for the Week: 3rd January 2021

Our thought this Sunday is by Steve Langton

Children of God

Our gospel reading today follows on from that familiar reading from the gospel of John chapter 1: ‘In the beginning was the word…’.  It continues as follows:

10 The Word was in the world, and though God made the world through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. 12 Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God's children. 

John tells us that many people did not recognise Jesus, even amongst the Jews in his own country.  However, all of us who do believe in him become ‘God’s children’.  This remarkable message is repeated in the reading from Ephesians 1: 3-14, where St Paul says ‘Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ.’ (The Message).

When we look at the Christians in our churches, we see very many different experiences of God.  Some have a sudden conversion, just like St Paul, whereas others follow a more gentle path to faith.  God works in many different ways.  These passages tell us that regardless of the path we have come, if we believe in Jesus, we have the privilege of becoming God’s adopted children, with the promise of forgiveness and the gift of God’s grace.

Now those of us with experience of human adoption know that, whilst it provides a fresh start for the children involved, that doesn’t mean that all will be smooth in their lives for evermore.  Unfortunately it doesn’t even mean that they can leave all aspects their troubled pasts behind them.  Those early troubled experiences before adoption will cast long shadows into their futures, as they have to deal with the consequences of neglect or abuse, and also with their genes, which can predispose them to mental or physical illness.  Adopted children have to work hard to overcome these disadvantages and realise the benefits of their new lives.

The same is true of spiritual adoption into God’s family.  We sometimes feel particularly close to God, full of enthusiasm to make a new start and to live in the way that Jesus would want.  But it is difficult to leave behind our inherent human failings, and past mistakes can impact on our capacity to change.  Plus, in many real world settings, the correct course of action is not clear-cut – how many times have we all done what we thought was for the best, only for it to go disastrously wrong.  As adopted children of God we need to work hard, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make the most of His goodness to us.

Heavenly Father we thank you for making us your adopted children and for your constant love for us.  Give us the strength to overcome our weaknesses, and fill us with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit so that we might live the lives that you wish us to lead.  We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.