The Spirit of Adoption: Welcome to the Family!
Paul’s use of the phrase ‘Spirit of Adoption’ is not a novel revelation and goes hand-in-hand with the idea of our being ‘children’ and even heirs of God. It is rooted squarely in Jesus’ own theological expression. For example, in John 14, in the midst of conversations between Jesus and his closest disciples at the Last Supper, Jesus says in verse 18, “I will not leave you as orphans”. This understanding of God as a father would not have been foreign to the disciples given Jesus’ frequent referral to God as Father, and not just his Father but the disciples’ Father as well. In John’s gospel, Jesus uses ‘Father’ more than 120 times to refer to God despite this being one reason why the Jewish leadership sought all the more to kill him from the beginning of his ministry (John 5:18).
Why does this matter?
Because it is foundational to our identity in and walk with Jesus. It is easy to slip into valuing ourselves in ways that the world or our culture defines, causing us to strive to establish our identity or ‘reinvent ourselves’. There are certainly things to strive for as a follower of Jesus— godliness, unity, prayer, good works, and generosity to name a few - but our identity and eternal worth are not one of them.
Because Christianity is not a mental ascent, an exercise of will power or philosophical system of thought—as if our only problem is that we strayed from some moral code. No, it is an experiential-revelational-relational relationship with the Creator of everything, the eternal Father whose intention it has always been to have many children of whom Jesus is the first (Hebrews 2:10-11). This life can only be lived by the power of the Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8).
We develop a lot of theology regarding the work of the Spirit—convicting, sanctifying, healing, empowering for mission, etc., but let’s not forget experiencing the adoptive work of the Spirit in our hearts because it is our identity that is at the foundation of our walk with Father God. I encourage you to regularly ask the Spirit of Adoption to fill you up—specifically to make your identity and standing with your Father a present reality so that you may find yourself crying out ‘Abba, Father’.
So, welcome to the Family … and yes, I am the crazy Uncle!