When I was eight years old, my mom died of metastatic breast cancer, leaving three daughters, of which I was the oldest. Fourteen months later, my dad married a widow from our church, also with three young children, and our family became a “Brady Bunch,” with six children ranging from 4 – 9 years old. Comparing ourselves to that current 60’s TV show was a great way to explain our somewhat-uncommon family situation to our friends. In fact, we still use the Brady Bunch theme song, with new words written by my brother and adapted to our own family, to describe our story!
Perhaps more uncommon was the fact that we did not become a “stepfamily.” After their marriage, my dad and second mom adopted all of us children, so that they would both be parents to all of us. I remember going to court for the adoption hearing, and have a copy of the adoption decree. Just as a child adopted as a baby is legally the child of her adopted parents, we became one legal family with one last name, with no step-anythings in our experience or terminology. I had a first mom who gave me birth and a second mom who raised me to adulthood, not a “real mom” and a step-mom. Though the arrangement didn’t prevent the challenges of adjusting to new family dynamics or the unique rigors of having six children within a five-year age span (with two sets of children just weeks apart), we knew that we were onefamily unit, with parents who were committed to all of us. Now that our parents have passed away, we share the inheritance, regardless of which family we came from or which last name we were born with.
I have been reading in Galatians in my devotions recently, and the significance of our adoption popped out at me in a theological way. Non-biological children can do nothing by themselves to earn the family name; they have to be born to it—unless and until the parents adopt them and they become full and legal members of the family. In Galatians 2:15-21, the apostle Paul emphasizes the fact that we find spiritual salvation only by God’s grace toward us and by our faith in Christ; there is no way we can attain it on our own, by keeping God’s laws or by doing good works. We are not perfect enough to keep all the rules of God’s law, and could never do enough good works to save ourselves from sin; it is only by Jesus’ sacrifice that we can be saved. Ephesians 2:8,9 reiterates this gift: For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Paul also teaches in Romans that God’s law serves to make us aware of our lack of righteousness—our sin—but that no one can be righteous on their own. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24) Our salvation is by Christ alone, when we put our faith in Him.
Galatians 3 goes on to talk about the fact that when we accept God’s gift of grace and forgiveness and give ourselves to Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family. We become heirs along with Christ–the divine and righteous heir–entitled to receive the full inheritance that God has in store for His children. You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus . . . you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:26, 28b, 29). But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:4, 5,7)
What a wonderful truth to recognize and cherish as we move through Lent, remembering that we all sin and can never come close to God’s holiness on our own. Just as we siblings are all my parents’ heirs, by right of adoption, so are we who have put our faith in Jesus for salvation “joint heirs with Jesus,” as the Gaither song puts it. What a wonderful gift it is that Jesus died for our sin, and that we can quote another song and say “we are the sons, we are the daughters of God”!
Read the books of Romans and/or Galatians over the next while, to learn more about “righteousness from God” and how it is available to us. And keep in mind this wonderfully reassuring quote (by whom, I don’t know) that I wrote in my Bible that “Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is a life of faith.” We don’t have to have monumental faith to become God’s child, but start and keep building and growing by getting to know Him better!
Listen, watch, and ponder Jesus’ work on the cross for you: In Christ Alone & The Family of God
Prayer: Gracious Father, there is no way I can measure up to your standards of holiness. Thank you that you loved me so much that you sent Jesus to die for my sin, and that by faith I can be adopted into your family. Help me to grow my faith each day by reading your Word and paying attention to how you want me to live. Thank you that I can share the full and godly inheritance that you have promised to Your children—eternal life in heaven with you. Amen.
Submitted by Sharon Anderson