4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Many of us who trust Jesus as Lord don’t have a problem seeing our God in heaven as a father figure. There are plenty of books, television programs and movies in the world today that reinforce a “Father Knows Best” mentality and it’s not much of a stretch to extend that world view to include it as a perspective of God. If you have never heard of a program called “Father Knows Best,” don’t worry about it. It was a program that old people used to watch a couple hundred years ago before Steve Jobs was born.
Anyway…If you put yourself in the mindset of a first century Jew then you might see things from quite a different perspective. While most young Jews are taught to love God, God’s Word and His Ways with all their is heart and with all their soul and with all their strength, (Deut 6:5). I believe that the personal concept of addressing God the way a little child address their father, Daddy, was somewhat of a stretch for people of that day. Sure there are many examples of individuals who spoke to and walked with God personally. It is my opinion that the 1st Century Jew had more of a “community view” of God than “personal view.” In other words, in my view, while it seems that most of us who have a westernized view that our actions before God and our relationship with God affects us personally, the Israelite in the first century would believe that their actions before God and their relationship with God had an effect on their entire community…not that the community view is wrong. Candidly, I think that perhaps, since the time of the Renaissance and reformation, we in western culture have allowed our view of God to get too personal at the expense of a community view. Nevertheless, in addition to being a God of community where people love their neighbors as they love themselves, God loves each of us personally.
Simply Amazing…but wait there’s more… the next few verses drive home this concept and leave me with a question as I prepare my heart for Jesus this Christmas season.
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
The thought that because of Christ I am “known by God” is overwhelming to me. The thought that this Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace who created the entire universe would intentionally know me is worthy of praise. I don’t think that I can fully comprehend the concept but here it is in clear text…then comes the billion dollar two part question. “But now that you know God-or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? Earlier in the passage according to Paul I have been adopted, the Greek word he uses is υἱοθεσία (huiothesia) which literally means to place as a son. Put it all together, I am known by God as a an adopted son. I now belong to him and his community. And so I ask again..this time personally and this time I’ll ask it in the New American Standard version…9But now that I have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that I turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which I desire to be enslaved all over again? A very good question Paul. It is a question I will be asking myself as I approach Christmas this year.