Tag Archives: child of God

Children of God (Easter 3, Year B, 22 April 2012)

1 John 3.12-19
Luke 24.36b-48 

I saw a poem in Eureka St magazine during the week called The problem with being an atheist. It was written by an Anglican priest in NSW called Jorie Ryan, and it begins in this way:

The problem with being an atheist
is the lack
of imagination.
no one to talk with
when we were first begun
to share the pain
of dying
the joy of living
to delight in our first words
our singing notes
our pictures on the walls.
The problem with being an atheist
is the lack of gratitude
having no one to thank for being here
nothing to join hands with
and dance the dance of life.

It stands in stark contrast to the way our reading from 1 John 3 starts today:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Jorie Ryan contends that atheism involves a lack of an ultimate reference for our joys and sorrows, a cosmic home to belong to; John proclaims that we have that ultimate reference and cosmic home, who is the Father who calls us children of God. The Father delights in the words we speak to tell our praise, the songs we sing as we serve others, the pictures we paint with our lives.

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Led by the Spirit (Ordinary Sunday 16,Year A, 17 July 2011)

Romans 8.12-25
Matthew 13.24-30

Two weeks ago, we talked about rules. We said, ‘rules may hurt as much as they help’. We spoke about a rule-bound shop where everything got messed up because the manager was trying to exert control by a system of rules to which the shop assistant stuck too rigidly.

We said that rules are good, rules are fine, but following them too rigidly can harm relationships in the workplace, in church or at home.

The Apostle Paul had been bound by rules. We call his set of rules the Jewish Law and we find it in the first five books of the Old Testament. Paul was in a real predicament. The Law was good, it came from God. It showed him right from wrong. But by obeying the Law, he ended up doing harm in quite a spectacular way when he persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. He discovered that we can set off to do the right thing, but if all we do is follow the rules we can’t be sure we’ll achieve the good we set out to do.

The truth is, if we want to live well, the answer isn’t in rules and laws. The power of sin is too great. It taints our best efforts.

So, if following rules isn’t the way, what is?

Let’s look at Romans chapter 8 for an answer. Here, Paul says:

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…

Paul has been on a journey of the spirit.

  • He has stopped living ‘according to the flesh’.
  • He has ‘put to death the deeds of the body’.
  • He will not ‘fall back into ‘fear’.

It may surprise you to hear that when Paul talks about the ‘flesh’, he isn’t necessarily talking about sexual sin. When he persecuted the Church, he lived in the fear of God; and Paul says he was living ‘according to the flesh’ at that time.

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Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A, 5 June 2011)

The risen life: children of God


John 17.1-11


John chapter 17 is one of those chapters in the Bible that have a name. There are others: we have Hebrews 11, the Faith Chapter, and 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter.

John 17 is often called ‘the High-Priestly Prayer’ of Jesus. When we call it by that name, we see Jesus as our great high priest, doing one of the things a priest does: praying to the Father for us. It’s a great picture, but I’m not sure it’s the best name for it. I’d rather call John 17 something like ‘the Returning Son Chapter’.

John’s Gospel explores a mystery; it’s the mystery of Jesus the Son of God.

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