You Are My Brother!

You are my brother! Well, depending on who you are, you may, in fact, be my sister!  That’s amazing!


What? Why is that amazing? It comes down to a distinction Paul made in Romans 8 between two spirits: the spirit of slavery & fear vs the Spirit of Adoption.


If I had to sum up the prevailing attitude/perspective/worldview of our day, the primary defining attribute would be “fear.”  There are many manifestations from our primary media outlets to our most recent presidential election. Granted, you get what you ask for, and the public keeps consuming, so the fault isn’t solely with the publishers and producers. Fear is the governing principle for so many choices made today.


Think about children--so many young people (married or not) will offer the excuse of being afraid to bring a child into this world because of all of the negative that they see or fear of lacking sufficient means to provide for a family. As a father of four children, I do have great concern over what sorts of challenges they’ll be facing as they head out on their own or begin to seek a spouse and consider raising their children. Rather than being immobilized by fear or attempting to wrap them in cocoons of supposed safety, I need to prepare and equip them to confront and surmount the ever-present darkness that, despite many expressions to the contrary, isn’t worse than it’s ever been. It’s just the simple fact that we live in a world full of people who care more about pursuing selfish things as opposed to godly things. (Most Christians struggle with this, too!)


Speaking from the perspective of a father, it’s not easy getting these children to stay on task and work together. But it makes sense because they are different people. It is interesting observing them to recognize that their choices, responses, propensities, etc. are because they are all created by God with the same ultimate purpose (His glorification), but differences in the particular journey to meet that goal. But if they begin to make choices based on fear, then they leave undone those very things that bring glory to our Father.


“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17


On our own, it’s easy to fall prey to our imagination or the fear du jour being propagated in news and social media. The saving grace is literally that--the salvation we have in Jesus. Paul offers this great encouragement that it isn’t just salvation, not just a Savior and Lord, but we’re offered a relationship. We have a FATHER to turn to helping overcome our fears and offering the strength and encouragement necessary to live daily for His glory.


The truly great thing about this is resetting our perspective: we aren’t his natural born children. We are adopted into his family. So much could be said about this concept that is so simple to state, but takes years to appreciate the depths. Certainly, there is a bond associated with being born into a family. There are similarities to one or both parents in taste, ability, physical characteristics, etc. With adoption, any of those similarities are mostly coincidental. Building a family through adoption brings together many varied attributes and makes a cohesive whole. This is one of those areas that is easy to underestimate until you’ve traveled that path.


After our family grew by adopting our youngest two children, many of the New Testament passages about adoption took on a different light. Adoption in our society isn’t a simple process. It requires deliberate intention, planning and endurance to bring a child into your home. Ultimately, it is about choosing to add to your family. In many scenarios, there is discussion and agreement, but it’s not up to other children in the family; it is the choice and responsibility of the parents to do what is best for that family.


When those thoughts about adoption in our physical families are applied to the spiritual, there are so many applications. God is the Father and chooses to add any who would also choose to join His family. Granted, those who choose God may not look, act, talk or behave as you would choose. They may have a very different background or perspective of this life based on their experiences than you do. They have no more or less sin than you when you came to Christ, but their sin may be wholly incomprehensible to you. It’s very possible that this newly adopted child of God may not even be welcome by those who also live in your neighborhood. As children of God who have been adopted, how could we begin to object to anyone that would willingly devote themselves to a relationship with our Father?  


Paul reminds the brethren in 1 Corinthians 6 of a number of widely varying sins, and that "such were some of you"! You are only spotless because of the blood of the lamb! God’s love and attention know no bounds. If you are uncomfortable with this person, why is that? Ask yourself, sincerely, if your choice is informed by the Spirit of adoption calling on your Father, or is your hesitation from the spirit of slavery leading to fear?


If you have given your life to God, you’re adopted into His family. You are my brother! Maybe if you knew more about my background, you might not have wanted to spend time with me before Jesus changed my life. I’m sad to say the same may be true in reverse--I haven’t always had a good attitude towards those different than me.  

I’ll say it again: it is simply amazing that you are my brother (or sister)!! Being a child of God is a blessing that is hard to fully appreciate. Remembering that we are adopted - CHOSEN - by God is such a humbling and encouraging thought that all of His children should be willing to share the love with our local church family and seek to bring as many into the fold as we can reach.