Galatians 4:1-7. What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
This past October, five checks for $1,872 apiece appeared in the mail at the house of a family of two parents and three children. At first, they thought it was either a fluke or suspicious activity. But when they read the card included, they realized the unique reason why they were receiving the checks: for a funeral they had attended. Two years ago, a Wisconsin man who ran a dry cleaning business drafted a will that included an unusual statement. "The sum of $500,000 to be divided equally to the individuals that attend my funeral. Attendance shall be determined by the names on the visitation book or where attendance can be documented by some form of reliable documentation." Friends say Dennis Valstad, a lifelong bachelor, wasn’t sure if anyone would attend his funeral when he died—so he decided to reward those who did. When he suffered a stroke and passed away this fall, a visitation, funeral, and burial took place a week later. And 267 people showed up.
Some gifts are just meant to be received.
While some may say we all get what we deserve in the end, Scripture teaches us that the opposite is true: that our amazing, generous God gives us what we indeed do not deserve. Relationship. Grace. Peace. Eternity. While Paul's letters do not share any of the gospel narratives about Jesus' birth, he does speak strongly about the meaning of the incarnation, “God with us.” He uses the metaphor of adoption, made possible by Jesus’ coming, to describe the relationship between a human being and God. Under Roman law, if you were adopted, you had the same legal status and inheritance rights as biological children. Adoption as God's children is not based on our level of perfection or achievement. Rather, it’s a pure gift.
You only need to receive it.
The story of Christmas tells us that God’s Son himself has already shown up in this messy, crazy world. But it’s our choice whether we receive what he wants to offer us. Perhaps it’s time to quit trying to do it on your own, to be free of the hurt and pain we carry and the perfection we keep missing and to hear his Spirit speaking, assuring that you don’t have to beat yourself up any longer.
Will you show up and receive what he’s offering you in this season?
Are you listening?