We Are All God's Children

By Rev. Heidi L. Barham |  June 19, 2022

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Read Galatians 3:23 – 29
Today is the day we pause to celebrate fathers and those who have stood in the gap as fathers in our lives.  Now, perhaps you will agree that fathers tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to celebrations.  Sandwiched in between graduation and wedding season, fathers are typically not celebrated to the same degree as mothers.
For example, on Mother’s Day, moms are usually treated to dinner at their favorite fancy restaurant… while many times on Father’s Day, we give dads the joy of firing up the grill to cook for everyone else.
Moms typically get flowers, candy or perfume or some other thoughtful, heartfelt gift.  Dads, on the other hand, get socks and ties they would rather not wear… but they will put them on and display them proudly (even if it is only once) and showing them off as if they were handmade just for them by the world’s top fashion designers.
Suffice it to say, dads rarely get the recognition and celebration that they deserve… but today we do want to pause and take this time to say thank you to all our dads!
Now, as we turn our attention back to the text for the morning, I want to invite us to give particular attention to verses 28 – 29 and listen to those verses again as they are found in the Message Paraphrase:

​​​​​​​In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.
Now, according to scholars, traditional Jewish morning prayers include prayers thanking God for not making them a Gentile, a slave, or a woman. And while it may seem hard to believe that would actually be someone’s prayer, those words are reminiscent of the prayer of the Pharisee we read about in Luke 18 (11) who stood by himself and prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.”
But what the Apostle Paul is pointing out in our text for today is that when it comes to the family of believers, there should be no prayers that extol division because WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN.
It is a message that he shared with the Colossian Church to whom Paul wrote, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11).
And that in turn points us to what Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
And to the Ephesian Church:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:4 – 6).
Simply put it all boils down to this simple fact, WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN.
But we are the ones who create the categories and classifications… the ones who look for ways to separate and segregate … the ones who establish hierarchies and systems that are designed to isolate and insulate.
We are the ones who see differences and distinctions as reasons to denigrate rather than a cause to celebrate… but at the end of the day, the truth remains WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN.
And I realize that this may be a bitter pill for some people to swallow, (no one here of course!), but the fact of the matter is that God loves us all and has given us His Son and our Savior that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (see John 3:16). And whoever means just that, whoever!
Now at the risk of stating the obvious, we are living in a very divided world… but that is not what God desires nor is that how God intended for us to live.
In Romans 8 (15-17) we read:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us and because we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can declare with confidence that WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN, with all the rights and privileges that entails.
But with that declaration also comes the acknowledgement that we have certain responsibilities to live up to… namely, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
The Great Commandment can be found in both Matthew 22 (37 – 40) and Mark 12 (28 – 31).  It is Jesus’ response to the expert in the law who wanted to test Him by asking Jesus which was the greatest of the more than 600 laws and commandments that the Jews were living under. 
Jesus summed it up like this, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Love God, love others, and love self with no exception… because the fact of the matter is that WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN and despite reports to the contrary, ALL really does mean ALL. 
There is no picking and choosing based on socio-economic status, racial/ethnic background, political affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity… When Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34 – 35), He meant just that… love one another. 
And that brings us to the Great Commission which is found in Matthew 28:19 – 20, where we find these words of Jesus:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Love God, love others, love self and then go tell everybody you can, ALL nations, about a love that is so great, that it went all the way to Calvary to bring salvation for us ALL because WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN.
Now, for some, it may seem too good to be true that God’s gift of salvation is free for ALL who would receive it… that despite all of the things someone may have said or done in their past God’s grace is free for the asking… but our job, our calling, our command is to help them to see the truth and explain that while we (and they) were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
But what our job is not… is to decide who deserves to hear the truth about God’s grace, mercy and promised gift of eternal life to ALL who believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).
We have been given a tremendous gift and all God wants is for us to share it with others freely, without reservation or hesitation and without judgment.
We should not try to hide it under a bushel basket or stash it in the back of a closet… God wants us to put this gift proudly on display so others will see it and want it for themselves. 
Now most people would say it is not good to boast or to be proud, but when it comes to boasting and being proud in the Lord… well, that is a different matter altogether.
Paul had this to say about boasting in Romans 5:2b where we read, “And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.”  And then a little further on in Romans 5:11, we find, “Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Throughout his letters, Paul indicates that it is okay to boast if we are boasting in the Lord as we are boasting about the Lord.
And if we stop and really think about it… the Lord has given us so much to boast about, that if we spent our time boasting about the Lord and all He has done for us… there would not be time for all the arguments and confrontations we see happening all around us.
But sadly, we live in a day and age where the focus is on all the wrong things.  People spend so much time on social media listening to and reading the rhetoric that is out there, they miss the truth about God and the truth that God’s love is for everyone because WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN.
There are some folks who would rather create standards and protocols in a mistaken attempt to determine who is and who is not deserving of God’s love.  They would profess to know the mind of God and decide who is worthy of the gift of salvation… declaring who is going to hell based on some arbitrary criteria that they have put into place.
But let the record show, it is not up to any one of them or us to make those judgment calls because none of us has been afforded that privilege… that honor belongs to God and God alone.
And I, for one, am glad that I don’t have to make those decisions… because based on my own past experience, I would surely make a mess of things.
But the good news is that neither you, nor I, have to bear that burden.  We just get the joy of telling others about Jesus and showing them the love of Christ through all that we say and do.
And yes, it really is that simple. 
If we look at 2 John 6, we read, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
But just what does it mean to walk in love?
To walk in love is to walk in faith, loving others just as Christ loved us… and lest there be any confusion about how Christ loved us, in 1 John 3:16 we read, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
Now before you get nervous, loving others as Christ loved us does not mean we have to literally lay down our lives for someone else, but it does mean that we ought to live sacrificially, not just looking out for ourselves, but for the greater good of others.
To walk in love is to follow the example of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
To walk in love is to recall the words of the Prophet Micah who said, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
To walk in love is to walk with God who has promised to be with us every step of the way… to never leave us nor forsake us.
To walk in love is to walk in the blessed assurance that we can walk with God both now and for all eternity, because WE ARE ALL GOD’S CHILDREN
And with that thought in mind, let us rejoice today as the children of our Heavenly Father, and let us celebrate the gift of our earthly fathers as we stand and join in singing our Hymn of Discipleship: Faith of Our Fathers #635.