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Opener: We desperately want our children to obey. But we don’t want obedience out of fear of rejection from the family? No! We want obedience because our children are in the family. Yet many of us obey God out of fear instead of security, when, brothers and sisters, we are in the family!
Our church is studying the book of Romans on Sunday mornings. Romans contains a lot of theologically dense material. One of the hardest things for me to grasp is the idea of grace. It’s hard, because it’s so easy.
Indeed, the book of Romans presents the idea of grace in such a radical way that Paul must clarify that our acceptance into the family of God should not lead to sin but to righteousness.
In the Family
As our pastor was covering this topic in Romans 8, he gave this powerful illustration about his own children, and I want to share it with you. He said:
My love for my children is not contingent upon them keeping all the rules with perfection. No. In fact, I love my children for the same reason that God loves me.
It’s because I am in the family. It’s not because I’ve kept the rules and regulations.
Let me explain.
Outside the Family
Our family fostered and adopted three of our four children.
Here is what we noticed—and what is so powerful about the Gospel.
Foster children arrive in your home scared, confused, and paranoid. Your home is a new place, and the unknown is always scary. Further, they never know when they might have to move from your house, to another . . . to another . . . to another, and that creates paranoia.
But, what foster children truly fear never getting a permanent home and “aging out” of the system (just ask ’em).
So, often, they will obey the rules of the house because they think, if I’m obedient I will be accepted, I will be loved, and I will be adopted.
They follow the rules out of hope. They hope that, by following the rules, perhaps we will adopt them. Perhaps they will not have to move again. Perhaps things in life will go better. Perhaps we will accept them.
They also follow the rules out of fear. They fear that, if they don’t follow the rules, we might ask them to leave. They fear that, if they don’t follow the rules, we will not value them. And they fear that, if we do not value them, they will be discarded . . . again.
So, the hope of acceptance and the fear of rejection is at the root of their obedience.
But here’s the cool part.
When that adoption date came, and we stood before the judge and he struck that gavel, do you know what happened to my kids? They began to loosen up. They began to relax.
Because they are in the family.
And they don’t obey to get into the family, they obey because they are in the family.
They know we love them.
They know they are secure.
They know they have a daddy who loves them (and is learning to love em).
They know they have a momma who loves them (and is learning to love em).
They are in the family
They have realized their hope for acceptance, and they have abolished their fear of rejection!
And it’s the same with us.
The Family of God
Some of us act as though we’re not in the family, when we’re in the family. We’re trying to make God love us, when He already loves us.
You are a child of God. It’s different now.
You are in the family.
You’re under grace. Loosen up!
There is now no condemnation (Romans 8:1)!
So why obey?
Obedience is now rooted in the love that is at the heart of our acceptance and adoption.
That love is the very thing that led to our acceptance in the first place. Not our obedience (though we couldn’t see that at the time).
We can disobey. We can sin. And those actions will not lead to rejection.
But why would we do that?
We are dead to that life. We have a new life. (Romans 6)
Those anxieties no longer hold sway over us.
Praise be to Christ Jesus that in our adoption as sons and daughters of God, we live in the freedom that comes from knowing that our Father is the king of the universe. We get to obey. Hallelujah, let us praise Him!
We are in the family!
If you go to my blog, I have posted this five minute portion of the sermon. It’s powerful!
If you want to hear the full sermon, check it out on our churches webpage (look for October 7 2018):
For additional posts, check out my Life Letter Cafe author page:
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my book about our familial relationships. It ends with the idea of adoption: