Aspiring Meditations: 30. Aspiring to Sonship
Matt 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Matt 5:44,45 Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
Rom 8:14 those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
In what I believe will be the last in the series, we face the fact of who we now are as Christians, a term that does not always sit very comfortably with some but which is nevertheless a very significant term – sons.
We tend to be more comfortable with John’s teaching about us being ‘children’ of God, for example, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12,13) and in his first letter, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God.” (1 Jn 3:1,2)
So if we are comfortable with ‘children’, why not so comfortable with ‘sons’? I think there are two reasons. One if I was a woman, I would prefer to be called a daughter but, as we’ll see there was a special significance to ‘sons’. The second reason, I suspect, is that of course Jesus is THE Son of God, and he is unique and we don’t want to detract from that, yet the scriptures are quite clear that by our lives we will show that we are God’s ‘sons’, His offspring with special privileges.
We see this in Paul’s writings: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Gal 4:8,7) See the significance in what he says here. He has put into us His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus and so as He lives and works through us, so we emulate THE Son and are, if you like, ‘little sons’, little replicas of Jesus, or at least that is what He is working towards (see 2 Cor 3:18). Earlier in Galatians he wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Gal 3:26,27) It was by faith we came to Christ and the other side of the coin, from the side that says he was put into us (his indwelling Holy Spirit), says we are (figuratively) put into him (baptized or immersed in him) and thus become one with him.
When he wrote to the Ephesians Paul said, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.” (Eph 1:5), i.e. the long-term plan (from before Creation) was for salvation to mean that we were adopted into God’s family, as a result of the work of Christ on the Cross, to bring pleasure to God as His will is worked out in this way.
Now there are various scriptures that indicate that the way we live and act reveal to the world who we are, for example, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Lk 6:35) Our starter verse above says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matt 5:9) In other words, as we behave with the same nature as God – being kind, loving enemies, and doing good to them, and acting as a peacemaker (do you see how the two verses fit together?) you will be acting as a child of God, no, a son of God. So what is so significant about the son?
To answer that we have to go back into the culture of Old Testament Israel. The word ‘sons’ comes up 883 times in the Bible, most of them in the Old Testament. Observe something in respect of Noah and his family after the Flood: “So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.” (Gen 8:18) but then a little later, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1) The whole family was saved but it was Noah and his three sons that God blessed? Why? Well look right the way through a concordance of the Old Testament and you see that it is the sons who hold and convey the family name, even as it is mostly today. Why? I can only make suggestions.
Childbirth, I suggest, is the most demeaned human activity when it comes to ideology. To say men and women are equal is often a meaningless comment. Yes, I believe at work there are still centuries of the world’s understanding to be overcome, so there should be equal pay for doing the same job, but a much more meaningful description of the sexes is simply to say we are different, and THE difference is that a woman bears children and then has the heart to raise them. Yes, I applaud men who share in that, but I observe the heart of my wife as she refers to our three children. They came out of her body and nothing can diminish that. She has a feeling, an understanding of them, if you like, that I cannot possibly have because she carried them, she birthed them, she weaned them and I did none of those things, and historically no man can ever do those things and if in our foolish world today we lose that, we are simply showing our folly.
But this is only one side of the coin but I’m afraid it needs saying in this world of distorted truths. The other side of the coin historically is, very simply, that while the wife was doing those three things, the man was out making a name for himself and making provision for the family. It has nothing to do with inequality but simply to do with giving the man status to earn in the world in order to provide for his family. So the follow-on from that is from pre-teenage years (age 12) the son was recognized for what he was to become – the earner – and thus followed in his father’s footsteps in work or business, so that he too could become established as the earner once his own father got too old to work or died. (It was Jesse’s sons who looked after the sheep and went out to war and it was Jacob’s sons who looked after his flocks – with the exception of spoilt Joseph).
Now here is the point, when we are called the bride of Christ (and that includes us men) that refers to the preparation of the present body of Christ (the church) for the return of Jesus. When we are called ‘sons of God’ it is to emphasise the life we have been called to, continuing the Father’s business and also recognising that one day there is an inheritance yet to be received in heaven. Present responsibilities and opportunities serving the Father, and a future hope of a glorious eternity with Him, that is what this is about.
But it is all about understanding (remember, seeing the ‘significance’ of it), and taking hold of it, appropriating it. Aspiring to all these various things in this series is an expression of being a son of God, wanting to enter into the fullness of the life or inheritance that is ours, towards more and more living out all those things, including growing into maturity and more fully being available to serve Him – following in the Father’s business, bringing about the kingdom of God on earth. May we each move more and more into the fulfillment of this aspect of our life with the Lord. Amen.