We all take our parents for granted, don’t we? They feed us, clothe us, house us, send us to school, ferry us around town, teach us to work, help us with our mortgage, babysit the grandkids, and just generally make life possible for at least the first two decades of our lives. And what do we give them in return? A kiss on the way out the door and a card on Mother’s or Father’s Day. Hardly an even deal, is it?
Now, this might be overstating the case a bit. But you get the idea, don’t you? Our parents give us everything and so often we take them for granted in return. I wonder if Christians can be the same when it comes to our heavenly Father, God? In the gospel, God has done something amazing. He’s taken us sinners and he’s forgiven us. As if that weren’t enough, he’s taken those same forgiven sinners and turned us into valued servants. From sinner to servant: that’s quite the transformation! But God is SO gracious he doesn’t even stop there. Not content just to forgive us or enlist us, God has adopted us as his children, loving us with the same love he has for his own Son, Jesus. Just let that sink in. The God we once hated has now adopted us as his children and invites us to call him ‘Daddy’, Abba. That’s a pretty amazing thought, isn’t it? Every time we begin the Lord’s prayer—‘Our Father in heaven …’—we are saying an incredible thing: that God—the maker of heaven and earth and our rightful judge—has become our Dad. That’s a truth we can never take for granted.
It’s also a truth our world needs to hear. Humanity is estranged from its Father. We have orphaned ourselves, rejecting God’s love and replacing it with all the other stuff we think will make us happy: sex, money, power, family. And yet the ache still remains. We feel like orphans in our own world—listless, placeless, feeling like we should be part of something bigger than ourselves but unable to put our finger on what exactly that might be. Into this vacuum rushes the gospel. Jesus, the Son of the Father, enters our world and confirms our deepest hopes: ‘Yes! You have a Father! And he wants you back! And though you’ve ruined your relationship with him, I’m here to fix it. I’ll take all the estrangement you deserve, so you can become his children.’ And so, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus cries out, ‘Abba, Father,’ and does God’s will and goes to the cross. If we put our trust in him, it’s there that our adoption papers are signed and we go from being sinners to sons.
As we think about our vision and mission as a church over the next two weeks, let’s remind ourselves of these great truths. God is in the adoption business. He’s turning sinners into sons. He is offering ‘home’ to a city of orphans. What better message to take to the people of Adelaide? And what better cause to give our prayers, our time, our gifts and our money to? How gracious is our God, and what a loving Father we have in him.