Sons not Slaves
I love that song “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God” and yet how many of God’s family have ended up as slaves, controlled by fears without and fears within, yet, Paul very clearly says that slavery is not the birthright of the child of God, but sonship.
And the difference is huge. To be a slave is to be a commodity. To have no identity. To have no real relationship. To have no freedom. To serve a purpose and when that is done to be discarded. Done.
To be a son is to have a very clear identity. To have a real and meaningful relationship. It is to be free in the right sense of the word. And yes to have a purpose, but one that flows from sonship itself.
Sonship flows from knowing God as Father, a true and loving Father, a good Father who delights in his children, from knowing the Father’s heart. It flows from understanding the nature of our adoption. We’ve not just been saved, forgiven and have a home in Heaven when we die, we have been called into a wonderful relationship with the Everlasting God, the Creator and get to call him ‘Abba, Father.’ Wonderful!
We are sons and have the privilege of knowing and relating to God as our Father, a father whose love doesn’t fluctuate, who doesn’t get moody, have off moments, isn’t overbearing, distant or demanding, nor stifling or stingy.
We have a father who loves his children, is there for them all. A father who knows his children and understands them. A father who loves to be with them, hear their voice, respond to their requests. A father who heals and helps. A father who is about nurturing and growing each one to maturity. A father who knows how to lovingly discipline his children. A father who is loving and gracious in all of his ways. A truly good father.
But why ‘sons not slaves,’ why not ‘sons and daughters not slaves’, or ‘children not slaves’? The reason many Bible versions use the word ‘sons’ is because of what it meant in the world of the Bible. Sons were the ones who were empowered, who inherited, daughters weren’t and didn’t.
The terms “father” and “son” are important and refer to far more than simply that of kinship and a loving relationship, they are also the ancient terms for business owners and their authorized representatives (the meaning-full background of so much of what is taking place in the Bible right from the story of creation to redemption). In New Testament times an adopted son in Roman law (Paul’s world) meant that you had the right to the name and the citizenship of the person who adopted you, and the right to inherit his property. You also had the power of attorney – where your word was as good as your father’s. This meant the adopted son had the same rights and privileges as a naturally born son (think of the story of Ben Hur). Unfortunately, these rights were not granted to an adopted daughter. Roman law also granted the one who adopted that son the full rights and responsibilities of a father, full authority over the adopted son, and full responsibility to care for him. In the Kingdom that is the privilege of all God’s children, male and female!
In seeking to build a Kingdom Culture then we need to know and nurture the Father heart of God in our church communities and also understand the nature of the sonship into which we have been called and adopted, a very privileged and responsible position where we get to represent the Father in his business with the world.