“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!” 1 John 3:1
Heavenly Father, I share John’s wonder at this astounding truth: that you, the Holy God, the Righteous One, the Just Judge, the Good Creator King, would want to take your enemies, meaning every human being–evil, depraved, ugly, stubborn, rebellious and destructive as we all are—and, if they are willing, to transform them into new creatures and adopt them as your children!
What a turn-around: to bring your adversary into the palace and place him into your family, making him your heir!
Your astounding act of justification is the great gem of Truth in the New Testament—you, the Just Judge, by the propitiation of Christ’s shed blood, satisfied the law and bought for us, your enemies, complete forgiveness, restoration and eternal life–and a place in your plan. By your work, Lord Jesus, we stand justified before the court of Heaven.
Adoption, however, is another matter altogether. Justification is a forensic idea, meeting the demands of the law, coldly correct, handed down in court. In contrast, adoption is a family idea: warm, welcoming, accepting, being offered to a new position of privilege and grace. And this is what you offer!
This Agape love of yours is astounding. In one way, it is a brutal love–brutal to you the Lover, who suffered all the agonies of the crucifixion, and now gives and gives, unswayed by the lack of positive response from the rebellious, self-centered, unbelieving, negative objects of your love–us.
This love, so painful to you as you are grieved daily by our rebellion, is so gracious to us: embracing, caring, kind, forgiving, correcting, guiding, rebuking, nurturing, directing and cherishing.
As J.I. Packer puts it in his powerful book, “Knowing God,” the Judge becomes, “our perfect parent—faithful in love and care, generous and thoughtful, interested in all we do, respecting our individuality, skillful in training us, wise in guidance, always available, helping us to find ourselves in maturity, integrity and uprightness….”
In making us your children, Heavenly Father, you have invited us into the deep, intimate relationship you have with the Lord Jesus, giving us what you gave Him in His time on earth: grace, affection, fellowship, honor, and authority. As you loved your only begotten Son, so you love your only adopted children. “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ”!!! (1 John 1:3).
We must stand in awe, in wonder, in thankfulness, Lord God, at your desire and ability to love us so. You have made us those in whom you delight and rejoice.
You are gloriously great in your patience and goodness as you faithfully work in us, suffering grief every day at our hands as we, in our laziness, selfishness, pride, rebellion and unbelief, choose to disobey you and do our own deadly deeds according to our own puny plans. And this instead of responding to your invitation to join you in your glorious and great plans for restoring the universe to its pristine pre-fall condition. But you forgive us and continue to work lovingly in our lives.
Prayer: “Forgive us for failing to marvel at, revel in, exalt in and glorify you for this great and uplifting privilege of being your children. I thank you, praise you, rejoice in you, lift you up and honor you. I commit myself to obey you, Father, just as my elder brother, the Lord Jesus, loved you in obedience. May glory be to you forever and ever. Amen.”