Monday, August 23, 2010

Coming of Age

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."
This Epistle to the Galatians (4.1-7) speaks of our growing out of childhood and becoming fully mature as Christian men and women. This can happen at any age when we give our lives to Christ by faith. Then, we come into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ as sons and heirs to all his abundant riches in our lives; the love, joy and peace and patience we long for.
In the ancient world, the process of growing up was different. Even though an infant was an heir to a great fortune, there was no difference between him and a slave, he was under the control of the stewards and overseers. When he was old enough, he became the heir and was regarded differently, honored and obeyed. Different communities at that time had their own coming of age ceremonies.
1. A Jewish boy, on the first Sabbath after his twelfth birthday, was taken to the Synagogue, where he became "A Son of the Law." There was a clear dividing line in the boy's life. Almost overnight he became a man.

2. In Greece, a boy was under his father's care from seven until he was eighteen. He then became what was called a "cadet," and for the next two years he was under the direction of the state. His long hair was cut off and offered to the gods. Growing up was quite a definite process.

3. Under Roman law, a boy came of age between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. At a sacred festival, he took off the boy's toga, which was a toga with a narrow purple band at the foot and put on the man's toga. He was then conducted by his friends and relations down to the forum and formally introduced to public life. On the day a boy or girl grew up, the boy offered his toy, and the girl her doll, to Apollo to show that they had put away childish things.

We too, when the fullness of time comes, and we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord, are adopted as sons and daughters and become heirs. Consequently, we are no longer slaves or servants but a son and daughter; and heirs of God because God has made us so in Christ. We also are no longer children, we have become adult sons and daughters and have entered into our inheritance. The freedom of manhood and womanhood has come.

The proof that we are adult Christian sons and daughters of God comes from the instinctive cry of our hearts. In our deepest need we cry, "Abba, Father!" to God or "Daddy, Daddy!" "Because you are sons," says Paul, "God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father.""
"Ab-bah" is the Aramaic word for Father. It must have been often on Jesus' lips, and its sound was so sacred that it was kept in the original tongue. Paul tells us that this instinctive cry of our heart to be the work of the Holy Spirit. If our hearts cry, "Abba, Father" we know that we are sons and daughters, and all the inheritance of grace is ours. Have you come of age as a Christian? Are you no longer a child but a son or daughter of God. What a wonderful gift from God!

That's what I think, anyway.

Rev Ron

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