When we become a follower of Jesus Christ there are many things in our lives that change. Many of the changes we go through are fundamental, especially as it relates to our relationship with God as well as our relationships with other people. Love is the new foundation of our lives. Not human love that is based on condition and performance but the love of God, His love is perfect and complete. He loves us regardless of our condition or our performance and asks us to love each other in this same manner. That type of love, well, that is a huge change for all of us.
The message of the Gospel transforms us from slaves of sin and religious law into new creations that have not only be given grace, mercy and new life through Jesus Christ but adoption into the family of God.
God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (Galatians 4:5 NLT)
The transformation we experience through the new birth takes us from those who were disconnected from a relationship with God to those who have not just been forgiven but have been changed and adopted as His children. We, who were the slaves of sin, had our freedom purchased at the highest cost of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We were purchased by God. We were set free by God and then we were adopted by God.
The challenge for many followers of Jesus is to accept the love of God without condition. God loves us, period. As a follower of Christ we know that He loved us while we were separated from Him due to our sin. Yet, for many, we work to earn the love of God through good deeds, religious service and by living a righteous and morally upright life. All of these things are wonderful but they can never cause the Lord to love us any more than He did when we were still separated from Him in our sins. We were adopted. We have become His children. Romans 8:17 says that we are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ”. Jesus paid the entire price. Jesus made the way. Jesus interceded on our behalf. We are now adopted into the family and treated as children of God to the point that the Apostle Paul classified us as “joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” God deals with us in the same manner as He deals with Jesus because it is Jesus that has caused us to be reconciled to Him.
I say all of this because we need to realize that we are not slaves and servants of the King of kings but we are adopted children. The behavior that the scriptures seek from followers of Jesus is not that of those who have been purchased and now are forced to work for a new master but that of sons and daughters who will inherit the Kingdom of their Heavenly Father. Slaves and servants are forced to work in the service of their master because they are owned or they have been hired to do so. It is true that many people who are hired or employed truly care about their work and the people they work for and with. However, their relationship is based solely on finances and should the financial part of the relationship end their service to their employer would also come to an end.
We, the followers of Christ, those who have been adopted as His sons and daughters must begin to behave as heirs of the Kingdom and not as hired servants of the King. We must serve and worship because of love, because of inheritance and most of all because of relationship.
The Great Commission is not a project that God is hiring servants to staff. There are far too many church people working in “the ministry” as if they were doing God a favor. Their labor is no longer born from love but from an obligation that is task oriented, service oriented and in some cases self-serving. It is an unfortunate reality that many church volunteers and even church staff members treat their positions as if they worked for a secular corporation. You can’t go home from the Kingdom when your Father is the King.
As a small business owner I know that even when I leave the office at the end of day I am, really, always working. I cannot disconnect myself from the company; the company and I are connected.
My relationship with Jesus Christ goes exponentially deeper than business ownership. It is the foundation of my existence. He has adopted me and made me an heir of the Kingdom. Much of the teaching I have heard on this truth highlights the benefits of being a child of God. Most of the teachings I have heard along these lines are biblical but most of the time the other side of the message is not shared. Being a child who is an heir bears responsibility along with the benefits. The Kingdom of heaven is our family business. It is our family legacy. It is who we are. We are children of the King not His hired servants. Jesus spoke of His love and devotion for His people comparing a shepherd to a hired servant:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.” (John 10:11-13 NLT)
I know that I am only a small part of the Kingdom and that I am only one of millions perhaps billions of other heirs to the Kingdom but that does not change my sense of ownership or responsibility. As an heir of God’s Kingdom I am responsible for the state of His Kingdom because it is my Kingdom too. I will never be the King but it is always going to by my Kingdom, it is always going to be my home. If you have been adopted too we share this responsibility together.
Christianity must be more than our religious affiliation and church more than a destination for worship and service. We must come to the place where we recognize and realize that we are not hired servants but adopted children who are heir and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.
This new life in this new Kingdom is not about making God happy with us because of what we do or do not do. This new life is about loving God with our entire being and loving people the way we love ourselves. It is about letting go of our will and our way so that we might embrace His will and His ways. It is no longer about building our own legacy or making our own mark upon society but it is all about expanding His Kingdom of which He has made each of us an heir.
My challenge to each of us (specifically me) is stop living as a hired servant and begin living as an adopted heir of the King of kings.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matthew 10:39 NLT)