It’s been just over a year since my mom’s youngest dog, Linus, joined our family.
Linus was a stray picked up by the county animal shelter. Nothing was known about his past. A sweater hung loosely over his lean frame, which he held close to the ground as he peered uncertainly around the first human dwelling he had probably ever entered.
One year later, Linus trots around our house with a loose stride and limber tail, brings us toys, and chases our other dog in dizzying circles around the yard while the air fills with hound music. He still hangs back when strangers visit, and he may always be on the slender side. But he knows he is safe and loved as long as he is with us.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:14-17, 27-30; Galatians 4:1-7; Ephesians 1:3-14). Jesus has paid the ultimate adoption fee through His death and resurrection so that we can have all the blessings that come with being children of God. We enjoy the assurance of His loving care, the community of other Christians, and the joy and freedom of a close relationship with the Lord.
Meeting Our Provider
As a stray, Linus had no one person to care for him. He had to find his own food and shelter. But when he was adopted, my mom took on the responsibilities of meeting his needs. And he has learned that he can trust her to do so – because she loves him.
When we invite Jesus into our lives, God becomes our heavenly parent. He becomes the One we look to to provide for us and protect us. And we know we can trust Him to do so – because He loves us.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear,” Jesus urges. “For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22, 30-31, NRSV). The apostle Peter encourages us to “cast all [our] anxiety on him, because he cares for [us]” (1 Peter 5:7).
God is faithful to His promise to provide for His children. He has given us His Word and His Spirit for guidance, power, and comfort (Psalm 119:105; John 14:26; Rom. 8:26-27; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). He serves as a refuge for us when we are afraid (Ps. 46:1), heals our brokenness (Isaiah 61:1), gives us armor to defeat temptations (Eph. 6:10-18), forgives us when we confess sin (1 John 1:9), and stands by that forgiveness when we feel accused (Rom. 8:33-34).
When Linus came to us, he was afraid. At his first few meals, he would run back and forth between his bowl and the door, seemingly torn between eating and making sure he was safe. Now he eats all at once, knowing he is not only safe but that his next meal will arrive like clockwork. He does not need to nose through dumpsters anymore.
As God’s children, we no longer have to worry about tomorrow, about death or sorrow. We no longer have to try to earn approval or goodness or love. Because Christ has conquered death and has given us His unconditional love and approval. We no longer have to fear loneliness, because He is with us beyond death and beyond the end of time.
Sometimes it is hard to trust His promise, to hand over our tangible needs to Someone we can’t see, especially when everything we know about present circumstances points to a rocky future. Just as Linus had to learn to trust my mom to meet his needs, we have to learn to trust God to meet ours – and often that takes practice. Ultimately our faith isn’t based on what we’ve done or experienced, but on who God is and what He has done. And in the words of Corrie ten Boom, we have no reason to be afraid to trust the unknown future to a God who has revealed Himself to us.
A Member of the Family
Once a solitary stray, Linus now has “siblings”, one of whom is another dog named Sally. Though they have different pasts, parentage, ages, and personalities, they now share the same privileges and the same basic relationship to my parents. Sally is a leader and companion to Linus, a constant in all situations – whether she likes it or not.
When we accept Christ, we become siblings. We gain brothers and sisters, mentors and coworkers, from every race and country and time – everyone who has accepted Christ Jesus as their Savior and Lord. We share the same privileges and the same basic relationship to God through Christ. This is what we call the Church.
This vast group of siblings is intended to bless and serve one another and to work together in glorifying Christ. We are to pray together, encourage and support each other, give wise advice, study together, teach each other, care for each other, worship together, and collaborate in sharing Christ with the world (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 12:4-27, 14:26-33; 2 Cor. 5:17-21; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 4:1-16; Philippians 2:1-4; Colossians 3:10-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25; 1 Peter 2:9).
We may not have much in common, or even know each other. We definitely don’t get to choose each other. We have our fights and our failures. But the power of the Holy Spirit inside us unites us in a bond stronger than any other. “As many of [us] as were baptized into Christ have clothed [ourselves] with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of [us] are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:27-28)
Children of the King
The greatest privilege of being a child of God is a wide-open connection with Him. He invites us to come to Him with every care and need, every want and wonder (Jeremiah 33:2-3; Phil. 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:14-16). The Lord of the Universe, King over storms and mountains and moons and galaxies, sits down beside us and asks us about our hopes and fears and dreams and what we did at school this morning. And He really listens.
“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you,” Jesus encourages. “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?…If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:7, 9, 11)
That’s not to say He gives us everything we want, or that He does not set boundaries. If my mom let Linus have and do everything he wanted, he would get sick, run over by a car, or lost. “The Lord disciplines those he loves.” (Heb. 12:6) Rather, He invites us to trust Him enough to share and explore our lives with Him, witness how He provides for us, and allow Him to prepare us for the future He has prepared for us.
Because, as His children, we are heirs – “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). We experience many of His riches now, but He has in store something imaginably better (Rom. 8:18-25). As Corrie ten Boom often wrote, “The best is yet to be.”
Adoption comes with a price. Jesus Christ, the Only Non-adoptive Son of God, paid that price when He died on the cross and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-5). We have only to accept His gift by believing in who He is and what He has done for us, and by confessing Him as our Lord Savior (Rom. 10:9-13).
Just think, because of what Jesus did for us, we can look to God our Provider with a child’s faith. We can be surrounded with the messy, miraculous presence of His Church. And in our deepest sorrow, joy, and wonder, we can cry out to Him who hears us,