Children of God | John 1.6-13
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:6-13 | ESV
“All the prophets led right up to the doorstep of John the Baptist; then John flung the door open and out flowed the kingdom.” You can call that an MAV (Mike’s Authorized Version) summary rendering of passages such as Matthew 11 where Jesus explains just who John the Baptist was and how he fits within the overall scheme of things. Mark begins his telling of the Good News with John the Baptist preaching in the desert – and after the birth and infancy preludes in Matthew and Mark, so do they. And so does John. It’s as if John is ready to launch into a telling of John the Baptist – who was, after all, his “rabbi” before Jesus “snagged” him as he walked by – but then, having introduced him, John the Baptist is quickly eclipsed, the lesser yielding to the Greater right from the start. If only the world would follow suit. But rather than yielding, it – we – rejects Life when it comes knocking. We are born infused, touched, impacted by the Light – he is the Light that shines upon every human being. And now he comes into the world. He comes to us. And we retreat into our cozy ruts of darkness. The world did not know, own, acknowledge him. “Who is this? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” There’s still no room in the inn. Then he turns to his own door – surely his own door, the door of his family, of his people, will swing open wide to him with hugs and greetings all around. But suspicious eyes examine him through a barely cracked and still chained door, and then it slams shut. “He came to his own, but his own did not receive him.” Life still finds no place to rest his head. With John in his later Revelation, we too are perhaps ready to weep much at such rejection – we know it so well ourselves. The Good News is born in the swaddling cloths of rejection. Like Viktor Navorski, the Word is “UNACCEPTABLE” with a loud red “DENIED” stamp on His visa application. Day, after day, after day. Ah, but then, suddenly, John points. “But to as many as did receive him, he gave to them the right to become the children of God.” John can’t wait to get to the point of the whole Story. As Pennington put it so well, the Gospel is not merely a proclamation of facts or moralism or greater religious effort. It contains a “concomitant call to repent and have faith” which John adorns in the garb of “new birth.” The Gospel is Divine seed inseminating our souls with Life and Light and freedom. The word is typically rendered here “right” or even “power.” It is quite literally the freedom of movement authentically flowing from who you are. And who you – who we are – is the children of God. Not merely aligned with God, not merely in good with God. We are his kids. Period. And that is another very encouraging thought.
How much of a stretch is it for you to really embrace the reality that you are a child of God (as opposed to a slave or servant or even a divine whipping post)? What would you say is the key to really getting this?
Abba Father, you have not sent us a spirit of slavery leading us into hardened religious chains of fear and bondage; you have sent the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of Sonship. Right here, into my heart. Let that beam burn bright in and through me. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.