Child of God
In the introduction to his account of the life of Jesus, John tells us that Jesus came into our world for a specific reason. He tells us that Jesus came so that all who receive him, who believe in his name, can receive power “to become children of God.”
Is that just a sweet, little Christian saying? Or does it actually mean something to become a child of God? Is there any real difference between being a child of God and being a subject or a servant of God?
In his book Freedom from the Performance Trap, David Seamands stresses that a world of difference separates how a servant approaches and deals with life on a daily basis, and how a loved child does. Seamands writes, “The servant is accepted and appreciated on the basis of what he does, the child on the basis of who he is.
“The servant starts the day anxious and worried, wondering if his work will really please his master. The child rests in the secure love of his family.
“The servant is accepted because of his workmanship, the son or daughter because of a relationship.
“The servant is accepted because of his productivity and performance. The child belongs because of his position as a person.
“At the end of the day, the servant has peace of mind only if he is sure he has proven his worth by his work. The next morning his anxiety begins again. The child can be secure all day, and know that tomorrow won’t change his status.
“When a servant fails, his whole position is at stake; he might lose his job. When a child fails, he will be grieved because he has hurt his parents, and he will be corrected and disciplined. But he is not afraid of being thrown out. His basic confidence is in belonging and being loved, and his performance does not change the stability of his position.” (p. 23)
The animated Disney movie Toy Story offers a glimpse of another difference that comes from being a child of God. Early in the movie, out of annoyance at the astronaut toy Buzz Lightyear, Woody, a toy cowboy, shouts at Buzz, “You’re not a space ranger! You’re an action figure—a child’s plaything.” Later, after failing to fly, Buzz realizes the truth of Woody’s statement. Grief-stricken and disillusioned, Buzz hangs his head in resignation and laments, “I’m just a stupid, little, insignificant toy.”
But Woody comforts his friend with a deeper truth. He draws Buzz’s attention to the love of the boy who has claimed them as his own. Woody tells Buzz, “You must not be thinking clearly. Look, over in that house, there’s a kid who thinks you’re the greatest, and it’s not because you’re a space ranger; it’s because you’re his.” As Buzz lifts his foot, he sees a label affixed to the bottom of his boot. In black permanent ink is the name of the boy he belongs to. Seeing on his foot the name of his owner, Buzz breaks into a smile and takes on a new determination.
When we become a child of God, God writes his name on us, marking us forever as his own. As soon as that happens our identity, our worth, and our future are made secure. There is no identity higher than being a child the Lord of all creation! There is no worth greater than being a child of the King of all kings. There is no future more certain than being a child of the God who is eternal and invincible.
As 1 John 3:1 declares, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”