"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'"
At the heart of our relationship with God is our being adopted as true children. I sometimes wonder how this is possible and what this actually means. Becoming an adopted son of God is more often an abstract concept rather than the concrete reality in my life. So, how does this happen? And what does it mean?
The answer in our adoption does not lie in us. We were made to be sons and daughters of God, but we broke the relationship beyond human repair. Our hope is not in our ability to remake ourselves as sons and daughters. Rather, our adoption is rooted in the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Christ has perfect sonship with the Father. Our only hope of ever again becoming true children of God lies in our sharing in Christ's sonship that he already has with the Father. This is the good news of the gospel: that the Son of God became the Son of Man, so that he could unite men and women with God. He is able to do this because he is fully God and fully man, thus being able to mediate between the two and unite us to God. This is the foundation to our relationship with God.
But, what does this mean on a day to day basis? Being united to Christ, and thus being made a son or daughter of God means that we are adopted into the same relationship the Son of God has with the Father. In our adoption, we don't so much receive something from Christ, as much as we receive Christ himself. Jesus gives us his very self, and this is the heart of what we receive in adoption. Everything that is true of the Jesus Christ is now true of us. Jesus was God's beloved son, with whom God was well pleased. This is now true of us. Jesus and the Father were one. In Christ, we are now one with God. Jesus was sinless and incorruptible. We are now seen as sinless. Jesus conquered death, resurrecting from the grave. Likewise, we will also be raised to life on the last day.
One quick note on some of the things I just said. As those who have been adopted, we now share in the life of Christ and possess the many benefits of salvation. However, we do not share in the same substance that God has. We are still human. We are not divine. Yet, we are being restored to what it means to be made in God's image and what it means to be truly human.