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Child of God

June 23, 2013

Earlier this week, I went to Clare Priory in Suffolk for a Quiet Day. I teach Christian Meditation, but in all the business I knew that I needed, really needed, to carve out some time to be quiet myself. To practice what I preach! It was a good day, and I have come back, not so much refreshed but with more silence inside. I have also come back pondering more deeply the life of faith. It was in that frame of mind that I read our  Galatians 3. It is a beautiful passage, when you take the time to break it all down into phrases. I let this passage melt in me, like wonderful cake or chocolate melts in the mouth.

The first phrase to melt into me was, “Heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3.29): This is Paul working out what God has done in Jesus, and it blows his mind. He is a Jew that has realised that, in fulfilling the Law, Jesus has opened up to everyone all of the promises that the Jewish people thought were theirs alone. We take that for granted now. But it was dynamite for Paul. It was so insulting to many Jews that when he returned to Jerusalem many made a pact not to eat or drink until Paul was dead! By opening the promises of God to all, to gentiles, Paul was saying that the Jews were no longer uniquely special. Admittedly, they had already realised that they should allow others to learn about God, but these converts were never truly accepted as proper Jews.

Paul takes this so much further when he says, “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3.26-28)

Heady words; beautiful words. Firstly, I am a child of God, all through faith, and faith is a gift! I have been baptised and so I am “clothed with Christ”. What a phrase, “clothed with Christ”.

Secondly, no one is better than another simply because of an accident of birth: not by their nationality (Jew, Greek, English, Pakistani, German or Polish), not by their social status (slave or free, rich or poor), or sexuality (male or female). Those outside of God’s family can make those distinctions but I cannot. Anyone who is a Christian is my brother or sister, my equal in all things.

It gives a lot of pleasure to share good things, so I hope anyone reading this will share with me. Let those phrases sink in, let them melt into you; “child of God,” “clothed with Christ,” “all one in Christ Jesus.” {repeat them over a few times}

How do those phrases make you feel? Changing the metaphor, how do they taste?

Child of God – I have God as my father. The one who created all things loves me as his child. I can speak to him and he will listen. He is still “Father”, he is still in charge, he is still the creator whom I will never fully comprehend, but he is also my Dad! This truth also means that I have a huge family, to care for and to care for me. A family here and in heaven. A family that stretches back in time, through the centuries, back to Jesus and then back to the Prophets, through Jacob and Isaac and Abraham, all the way back to the beginning of time and creation itself. I have a family that will stretch out into the future, unknown to me but clear to God.

Clothed with Christ – When God looks at me he sees Christ clothing me. I am dressed up, and made beautiful until I the day when I become fully beautiful myself. But, while there is so much that is not right in me, God’s love clothes me with Christ, I am seen as the perfect creature that I will be, not what I currentlyam so that God sees the perfect creature imagined by God before the beginning of time.

All one in Christ Jesus – I am one with everyone that God has called to him. I am one with you, if you hurt I should hurt. I am being filled with the Spirit of God who is making me ever more one with Christ, and through Christ ever more one with the Trinity and with all of God’s people. It is Christ that is making all one. He sees me, and he sees all that I am, the whole package. He is looking for what is Christlike in me, what is good and trustworthy, and most of all what is loving. I try to show my education, my qualifications, but Christ looks at where I have used my education to love and care more.

There is a power in these words: Power to change me, and all of the Church: Power to change the world.

These words have the power to change, and they already are changing me, the Church and the world; but there is more still to do. So, I let those phrases sink in; “child of God,” “clothed with Christ,” “all one in Christ Jesus.”

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