In the prologue to John’s gospel, the declaration is made that all who receive the divine Word, the Word that came into the darkness of the world, are given the right to become children of God. The authority to give such a right comes from none other than that same living Word, the One who is the light and life of men – ever understood by the Church as the Lord, Jesus Christ. John makes it clear that the forging of this relationship as God’s children is not accomplished by our will or by natural processes. It is effected by the work of the Holy Spirit. Apart from this work, the apostle Paul said that we are
children of wrath and dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3).
So apparently, our situation isn’t one of being pretty good on our own and having the opportunity to move up a bit in our standing. Salvation is a resurrection from death to life; it is a coming out of darkness into the light of Truth; it is being delivered from slavery to sin under the condemnation of the Law to the outrageous freedom of the children of God Most High. If God is King of all the world – and He is – then all are subjects under His rule. But the relationship to the King of those subjects who don’t want the King over them and know they have broken His Law is very different than the relationship enjoyed by the King’s children – even if the kids don’t always measure up.
The sons and daughters of the President of the United States can walk right into dad’s office, when others could never get close to him. Christ is the only True Son of God, but the crazy wonder of His coming is that He offers to share His Sonship with us, particularly that we might enjoy the same relationship with the Father and the same royal inheritance in His Kingdom. Perhaps we should remember who we are in Christ and boldly pray to God, boldly venture out into His world to do His will.
(And for the record: faith – trust – in what Christ has done for us by His life, death and resurrection, rather than trust in our own supposed goodness or good works, is what (so to speak) seals the deal in the adoption process.)