A Child and an HeirDan Doyle
The ʺfullness of timeʺ came and everything changed. And what ended and what began can not be turned back. From the moment that Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb creation would never be the same.
ʺWhen the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ʺAbba, Father!ʺ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through Godʺ (Galatians 4: 4-7)
These 72 words reveal whole volumes of theology. In them we see the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Jesus and its most significant consequence. When we read the words, ʺthe fullness of time,ʺ we are talking, of course, of God’s time. His time is not our time and we cannot know his time until it is revealed to us. Paul is telling us here in this passage that this all came about according to God’s will, in his own time. And there is more! He is showing us the ‘proof’ that God is our Father, both as our creator, and as our ‘adoptive’ Father.
Here is the proof. Though we were created in innocence as his children, we, like the Prodigal Son, turned away from the Father to go our own ways in the world, squandering our natural inheritance, appeasing our own appetites extravagantly and peevishly. The Father, though, never stopped loving us. Indeed, his love was so much more extravagant than our prodigality that he sent his Only Begotten Son, to be born into the world through a woman. Though we had abused our nature, though we had tarnished our beauty, God never lost sight of either. There is a line in a play, I believe, that says it quite succinctly: ʺGod don’t make no junk.ʺ It is both God’s wisdom and his love of humanity that he chose to enter humanity fully, through the womb of Mary, in order to show us again our truest nature and our fullest beauty in his Son Jesus. Jesus, Mary’s son, the son of the Father, entered into humanity and became subject to its laws. Though he was a man he showed us the law of God in and through his words and in his deeds. He lived as a human being under the law and suffered and died under the law, but in his willing sacrifice on the cross he showed us that he was, is and always will be, a law greater than any human laws. In Jesus’ life, in his suffering and death, and in his resurrection, he made us sons and daughters of the Father once again. He opened the doors of Paradise to us once again, like the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son opened his arms and his family home to his wayward, now repentant, son once again. The Father has ʺadoptedʺ us back into his familial home.
And he proves his love for us every day, for he ʺsent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying out, ʺAbba, Father!ʺ Do you not recognize that yearning in your heart? As a Christian making your way through the world, this ʺVanity Fair,ʺ do you not, deep down, sense your own soul crying out, ʺAbba, Father?ʺ And do you not believe that your Abba, your creator, who has chosen you intimately and personally as his son or daugther, knows your prayers before they even reach your lips? This Father will not abandon you. He did not abandon the human race even though it was, in its hubris and childish peevishness, guilty of countless sins small and great. He will not abandon you, even though you fall, even though you sometimes doubt. He will not forget you. Though you have fallen, though you have doubted, when you return to Him, in sorrow and true repentance, He will always open his arms to you and welcome you back home. We have proof of that in the Incarnation of Jesus. We have proof of it every day in and through his Holy Spirit.
ʺYou are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.ʺ The daily efforts of the Christian life are rooted in this recognition. God has freed us from the slavery of sin through the redemptive act of Jesus on the cross. By his resurrection we have been made heirs to the kingdom of God. Let us pray always. Let us pray that we be given the daily bread of God’s grace to live no longer as slaves to the world but as heirs to heaven. Let us do all things in Jesus’ name. In doing so we will show others that we are indeed, heirs of the Kingdom of God. Imagine what the world would be like if a majority of Christians actually lived this way.