Have you ever read through those portions of scripture with the continual list of "so and so begat so and so"? You know the ones I mean - those many chapters in the Book on Numbers or the first chapter of Matthew. We see this "laundry list" of genealogy, with no clue what importance knowing all these "facts" is to us. I wish I had listened closer when Dad was alive - because my genealogy is now no longer as readily available to me since we did not write it all down when he'd share it! Somewhere in my family there is a Knight - I guess this is like a little bit of "royalty", so nobody minds declaring their relation to him! Somewhere in my genealogy there is probably a little bit of the "not so royal" relations - you know, the ones no one talks about at family dinners! They are in all our "family lines" right? But...there is a "genealogy" of sorts which really puts us all on the same level - the adoption into the family of God through Christ Jesus.
Every person who believes that Jesus is, in fact, the Messiah, is God-begotten. If we love the One who conceives the child, we’ll surely love the child who was conceived. The reality test on whether or not we love God’s children is this: Do we love God? Do we keep his commands? The proof that we love God comes when we keep his commandments and they are not at all troublesome. (I John 5:1-3 The Message)
The sequence to these verses is important for us to see:
* Every person who believes that Jesus is the Messiah. The condition of adoption is in what we do with Christ. We either recognize him as the only begotten (the "begat" thing) Son of God, or we don't. There is no middle ground. I think it is silly when someone says they are an "agnostic". Either we know God or we don't - saying God is unknowable is just not accurate. Scripture tells us even nature itself speaks of the Creator. No one is without evidence - it is what we do with the evidence which makes the difference!
* We are God-begotten. This establishes our "family line", so to speak. Now, I grant you, my "birth" into this world was the direct result of a very special love between one man and one woman (Dad and Mom). In tracing my "family tree", I could come up with all kinds of "so and so begat so and so" examples. Yet, my "re-birth" gives me (and you) a different genealogy! If you want to get right down to it, we are one huge "blended family"! The adopted child takes on the name of the new parent. In turn, they take on the privilege of being a part of the household. There is an exchange which occurs in this adoption process. The same is true of us - we not only get a new name, but we get the privileges of being part of this great big blended family!
* This "family line" exchange is putting us in a position of being close to people who might not have had the same "start" in life we have had. In fact, this blended family is made up of all kinds of "royalty" and "not so royal" individuals! But...in adoption, we are all declared "ROYAL"! We are brought face-to-face with individuals with life-dominating addictions, habitual use of colorful language, and sometimes off-color stories. We get to rub shoulders with corporate executives, homemakers, and the unemployed alike. It is indeed a vast array of individuals and lifestyles, is it not? Yet, in Christ, all are "blended" - some with strengths others need and others with wisdom which will break down walls we have erected in our lives.
* In adoption, God gives us the opportunity to love the way he loves - unconditionally, freely, and without measure. Now, this may be a little of a challenge at first, but in time, we learn to love in this way. The fact Christ dwells in another individual is all we need to know to be assured Christ will change whatever doesn't bring him glory. We don't need to be their conscience, or attempt to change them ourselves. God's plan is for us to live in harmony with each other - a challenge in and of itself! The differences make it immensely hard, right? Yet, it is the "differences" which make it possible for us to learn what it means to give and receive unconditional love! It is the need for loving when others would likely give up which makes it possible for us to learn about his long-suffering with us!
* Adoption brings us INTO the family - learning the family rules is what brings us to the place of enjoying being IN the family. You have heard me tell the stories of enlisting in the Army after I graduated high school. In a way, I was being adopted into a pretty big family. There were rules I had to learn in order to really begin to enjoy being a part of this family. I had a choice - find the value in the rules, or live miserably because the rules were always tripping me up. The same type of thing happens when we come into the family of God. There often are a fresh set of rules we are asked to embrace. Rules like loving your neighbor, turning the other cheek, offering not only your cloak, but your shirt, as well. Some come easy, others take us a while to get right. I did not always have the shiniest boots, the crispest of creases in my slacks, or the tidiest of lockers. It was not until I realized the value of discipline that I learned the value of these simply tasks. The rules seemed "dumb" at first, but in time, I came to see them as a way of unifying us, bringing us into a place of camaraderie, and tying us together when times got tough. Maybe God's rules for his kids are designed to do just a little bit of this, as well!
Just some lessons on being "begat" into a new family line. Enjoy!