There is a certain family resemblance shared between me, my brother, my dad, and his brother. Get us all in the same room and there is no doubt that we are from the same stock. Not only do we look similar but our voices and mannerisms are alike. And yet we are each unique with different likes, dislikes, passions, and desires. Genetics plays a role in this, but it doesn’t explain why Dad and I like fried mush and my brother David doesn’t. It would be fair to say that some of our resemblances are inherited and some are learned.
There is also an obvious family resemblance shared between believers in Jesus. Sometimes you can just tell that someone is a brother or sister in Christ even if you don’t know their name. That doesn’t mean that we’re all the same. There is a broad variety of likes, dislikes, passions, and desires in our large family. But there is or should be a family resemblance.
Our relationship with Jesus, who we are in Christ is like a multi-faceted diamond. Each facet adds to the sparkle and fire of our life in Jesus. We begin this journey of exploring the facets of who we are in Christ by examining sonship. Let me start off by saying that the Bible is not exactly “politically correct.” We could talk in general terms about being “sons and daughters” or “children of God”, but there is an essential truth revealed in being called a son. Just so we’re clear ladies, if I as a guy can be called part of the bride of Christ you can be called a son of God. Paul addressed this issue, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26–28, NASB95) Male or female, if you have clothed yourself with Christ, then you are a son and a whole lot more.
There are two ways to become part of a family, by birth or by adoption. Somehow in the mystery of the Bible, we are both born into and adopted into God’s family. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again from above (John 3). When we accept Jesus’ invitation a new birth, a new life, comes alive. Paul wrote, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB95) The Bible also speaks about us being adopted into God’s family. There’s something special about being adopted in the sense of being chosen, wanted, and accepted. Natural born children can experience those same things, but an adopted child knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. Paul observes, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:4–7, NASB95) See also Romans 8:14-17. I don’t know how this works in God’s economy, we are both born and adopted into His family. It’s like God really wanted us to know that we are part of His family and that He really really wants us to be there.
For those that haven’t started that journey, who have not yet been born and adopted into God’s family the Bible makes it easy. John declares, “But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13, NASB95) And Paul writes, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10, NASB95) Becoming part of God’s family is not like joining a club. There’re no secret handshake or oaths to learn. There’s no membership application or annual dues. You don’t need to do anything but accept Jesus’ nail-scarred hand.
Did you notice above how the Bible links sonship with being an heir? It may seem antiquated, awkward, and politically incorrect but in the culture of the Bible, only sons (for the most part) inherited the father’s estate. And as sons, we are all heirs of God. Some have, like the prodigal son, wanted their inheritance now. Believing that money and other stuff was the best of God’s estate. However, being a King’s kids is not about getting stuff but doing stuff. It means doing the family business and caring for the things Father God cares about. While we are heirs in Christ today, the best is yet to come. John observes, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because, we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2–3, NASB95) Did you notice how visible our family resemblance will become? When we see Jesus, we will be like Him. That is really the greatest inheritance of all. Every time we see something new about Jesus, every time we observe something about His character, every time we get to know Him just a little bit more we become more like Him.
So, when we shine the light of Christ on this facet of the diamond representing who we are in Christ what should we see? First of all, we should recognize that we belong to a larger family with many brothers and sisters. We are all (men and women alike) sons who carry the family name and are heirs in Christ. As sons and heirs, we are to be doing the family business. Doing stuff not getting stuff. Lastly, we should be growing and changing to be more like Jesus. There should be an ever increasing family resemblance in our lives that will be completed when we see Jesus.