SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
Despite our Differences, in Christ We are All Children of God
Key Verse: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” – Galatians 4:4-6
Then a marvelous thing happened to me. I had the privilege of traveling around the world, meeting Christians in 25 other countries. In one nation after another, I met Christians who embraced me even though I had a different racial origin. None of them saw our cultural differences as a stumbling block to fellowship. They loved me simply because I was a brother in Christ.
I observed that the followers of Christ in every culture have one thing in common: they are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and consequently brothers and sisters in the Family of God.
I realized that though our cultural differences tend to divide us, our love for Christ unites us. Our differences are barriers that, by the grace of God, we can find ways to leap over. What truly matters is that we all belong to Christ. The distinctions that separate us soon become irrelevant when we remember that our salvation is a gift from the God who loves us all like a Father.
My siblings and I called our father “Daddy.” It is the more intimate form of the word “Father.” We were a family and we knew it. We loved Daddy and we knew he loved us. My heart sang when I discovered in Bible study that Jesus called his Father “Daddy.” That is what the Aramaic word “Abba” means.
Using the word “Daddy” showed no lack of respect on our part as children. It simply revealed our awareness that we were a family held together by the common bond of love. We were children of a father who loved us even when he disciplined us.
It is a remarkable idea that through Christ we are made “children” of God. As children we can speak to God affectionately, even using the term “Daddy.” When we realize that we are his children, and that he loves us like an earthly Daddy loves us children, then we need not be “formal” in praying to God. Children have no need to address God as “the Great Architect of the Universe.” Such terminology robs of us the intimacy God wants with his children.
The law had its purpose. God used it as our teacher for centuries. It was part of God’s plan. The law taught us that we could not be made right with God by obeying it. However, the law guarded us until Christ came. Then in the fullness of time God sent His Son. Now there is a new way, and the only way, to become right with God and that is by having faith in Christ.
Some translations of certain passages are difficult to understand. However, the New Living Translation is quite helpful. Read the following verses slowly, and try to imagine that Paul is speaking personally to you:
Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian and teacher to lead us until Christ came. So now, through faith in Christ, we are made right with God. But now that faith in Christ has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians – you are one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you. (3:24-29)
Is that not a beautiful explanation of our salvation? With great conviction Paul is saying to the “foolish Galatians,” God has released you from bondage to the law. Stop focusing on your differences and realize that God has made you his dear children and you are now one in Christ Jesus!
One more time, imagine that Paul is addressing you:
Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set.
And that’s the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you. (4:1-7)
What a great truth to celebrate! We are God’s children. We belong to Christ and we belong to one another. We are no longer slaves but dear children of God. The Spirit of his Son dwells in our hearts. Dear friends, forget the beer and the cookout; it really does not get any better than this! Let us rejoice in the kindness of our dear Father, our Daddy, and for a few precious moments allow him to love us while we crawl up into his lap! Such tender love we need now and then if we are to serve Christ well on the battlefield! + + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)