Because you are 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 a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God–or rather are known by God–how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? (Galatians 4:6-9 NIV)
We are back to the child metaphor…
Like a child under the governorship of a guardian, the Law directed and developed the hearts of people before the coming of Christ. It led them to put their hope in the promise of God, as given to Abraham and ultimately revealed in the Son.
The Law instructed, but by its nature it also condemned. Both Jew and Gentile were condemned, though not all knew it. And finding their selves under condemnation and the slavery of sin, God’s creation cried out to Him and waited for His Savior.
Then He came! The Son came to give His life as a payment for sin. Then He came to live in the hearts of believers and interceded for them: “Abba, Father.”
Imagine what these words meant to a Jew. Their righteousness was not based on adherence to the Law, but rather the right heart. God was much more personal than they ever realized, and true religion was about a relationship first, and a way of life second.
But even more than the Jews, try to comprehend what this talk of an inheritance meant to a Gentile. Gentiles lived in a culture of paganism, and they were not only enslaved by sin, but also by their adoration of false gods that could not save them. Then, in one masterful stroke, God changed everything. He called them as sons, made them heirs of the kingdom, and put His Son in their hearts to cry out “Abba, Father.” And they weren’t even the children of Abraham…so they thought! But yes they were! The promise of Abraham had always been accessible by faith, and now it was theirs through Jesus.
What a challenge it must have been for Jews and Gentiles to come to terms with these matters. There were Jews by birth, Gentiles who had become Jews and Gentiles who had accepted Jesus without first passing “go.” And all three groups had to come to terms with Old Testament practices as they related to the worship of Christ.
Perhaps the main principle for us to keep in mind is not to be jealous children. It should be our desire to hear everyone cry out “Abba, Father” as the Son inhabits them through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The cry might not sound right coming from the lips of those who are different from us, or have a different past they we do. But we must rejoice when we are given new brothers and sister, having accepted the same Lord by faith.
How do you view others who come to Christ? With suspicion? With indifference? Or with joy? How do you think the Father views them?
Dear God, cry out in me. In Jesus’ name, Amen