One of the most remarkable things about Christianity is the declaration that believers in Jesus become his adopted brothers and sisters, with God as their Heavenly Father.

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… (Romans 8:15—17)

For those whom [God] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

Unfortunately, those beautiful truths can become a bit clouded for a simple reason: our only point of reference to understanding them is our earthly relationships.

Our understanding of God as Father is colored by our relationship with our earthly father.

Our understanding of Jesus as our big brother is colored by our relationship with our earthly big brother (if we have one).

So that’s where we need to let Scripture fill in the gaps for us and there is one really essential thing to grasp when we talk about having a relationship with God.  Our relationship with God the Father and with Jesus our Brother is fundamentally an unequal relationship–because they are still God and we are still not.

That’s what makes the concept of adoption so amazing!

Jesus became fully human and then on the cross he became all that is dirty and nasty about us (2 Corinthians 5:21) not so that we would stay in the nastiness, but so that we would become like him in his righteousness.  He became like us so we would become like him.  The Bible says we are lifted up to where he is (Ephesians 2:6)!

We need to be careful not to use “relationship” language in a way that lowers Jesus and makes him our buddy instead of using it in a way that lifts us up to where he is.  That’s where our adoption really counts–we are already like him and with him, we just don’t fully realize it yet.

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