Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heirs of God

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him that we may also be glorified together.

I keep coming back to this idea of, what does it mean that we are children of God? Paul goes into three parts of it. First, anyone who is led by the spirit of God is called a son of God (so strange to write that; it's easier to think of us being co-heirs with Jesus than to think of us sharing his title!) But, being led by the Spirit suggests a little bit both of obedience (compliance to external motivation) and maybe inward likeness (response to internal motivation). Second, we feel to God not fear, but trust and love, like a son for a father. Our relationship is defined now in terms of being as well as doing.

But this third part is strange. After having established that we are children of God and what that means, he brings in two legal forms-- there are two witnesses that know that we are children, and if we are children, we are heirs. What does it mean-- in the order of the universe, I guess, for what other law could he be appealing to?-- that we are children? Children inherit their fathers' property. If the father is God, what does this even mean? My understanding of "inherit" is that after a father dies, his property rightfully belongs to his children (or whomever his heirs are). I guess the implication is, someone to take care of the father's property, in whom the life of the father is somehow present. This makes more sense-- because why would you use the word "heir" in connection with God, who cannot die? And that is pretty incredible... the idea that as God's children we will be taking care of his property jointly with Jesus, the one who created and sustains everything (!)

One thing occurs to me now though. How is this different from the situation now? God gave his creation to people to take care of; people who were "made in his own image." It sounds like from the beginning, God intended everyone to be his children in the sense I've been talking about. But later on, especially in Jesus' parables, the role of people to creation is more of servants taking care of the master's property while he is away on a long trip but will come back. There's no question at all of ownership. Even in the parable of the talents, when he gives the servant ten more talents at the end, the servant's still a servant and the ten talents are still "given" to the servant as capital, the master's property and intended to make more money for the master. But the whole point of being an heir is to become an owner.

We, along with Jesus, will become the legitimate authority! As servants and stewards, we could protect and take care of. As heirs and owners, we can, perhaps, design and create and order. Perhaps it is this that the long, painful process of glorification is preparing us for... to become like Jesus, and to become good owners, to direct and design and order things well. That is why we need to become like God in wisdom, character and perfect goodness, so that we can create good things.

But then, joining in the suffering of Jesus is also necessary....

1 comment:

n.t.t. said...

The co-heirs idea blows my mind too. I don't understand brotherhood with Jesus yet.

> If the father is God, what does this even mean? My understanding of "inherit" is that after a father dies, [...]
I have never understood how God can use the term inheritance! But I bet God's understanding of the word makes ours seem dark and flat, just like his understanding of love or life are above ours.

> How is this different from the situation now?
Wow, I've never thought of that! Your point blind-sided me. [In fact, what specifically *is* our inheritance? This topic deserves a study!] Some guesses: 1) our authority on the earth is not perfect, but contested by Satan 2) our possession of the earth is not perfect because we die after only 120 years 3) our inheritance is the new heavens and the new earth, not these heavens and this earth.