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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, August 31, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Galatians 3:23–4:7

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

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 as children. Because you are his children, 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. (NIV)

Reflection
In this letter to the believers in Galatia, the Apostle Paul helps us appreciate the joy of being a “child of God.” What does it mean to be a child of God? It means being invited into a relationship that is so intimate and personal that we can call God Abba, Father. On the night before his crucifixion. Jesus prays, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible. Remove this cup from me! . . . Yet not my will, but yours be done”(Mark 14:36).If we can truly speak with God in this same way, how might that revolutionize our prayer life?

What does it mean to be a child of God? It means being given a vision of equality with others. “For all of you who have been clothed with Christ, there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”If this is true, how might this revolutionize our attitudes and respect toward others of a different race, a different culture, age, or economic level, a different gender or sexual identity?

What does it mean to be a child of God? Paul wants us to be clear that this new intimacy with God and this inclusive vision for others comes to us as a gift from God, not as something we can work hard to earn. If we become the children of God by Jesus buying us back from self-preoccupation at the high price of his own suffering and death, then how would that revolutionize our motivation for showing compassion to others in acts of kindness each day? We are not to be motivated by the notion of God keeping a cosmic score card, but by a heartfelt “Thank you!” for God reaching down and seizing hold of us as any good mother or father would do, urgently and impulsively, as we are about to slip down a slippery slope of meaningless living for self alone.

Prayer
Abba, Father, who runs out to welcome the prodigal home; Mama, Mother, who holds tenderly the nursing child as we draw our life from you: thank you for the intimate welcome you give us; thank you for pouring out your life that we may find ours as we give ourselves to others. Amen.

Written by David Handley

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