Sunday, January 17, 2010

Children of God: Born Again and Growing Up

We choose to be born again when we first state faith in Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior.

We become children of God, and are embraced just as Jesus was when God publicly recognized Him as his Son.

Immediately after that, Jesus was led into the wilderness, where he faced hunger and the perils of temptation.

Trials also follow our statement of faith. Scripture tells us to expect and even exalt these tribulations.

The difficult times of our lives parallel times in the wilderness as described in the Bible.

For the believer, it is a wilderness like that the Israelites wandered in after deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Our deliverance from slavery to sin came when we first proclaimed faith. But our journey to intimate relationship with God can be swift -- or like the Israelites', it can be delayed years by rebellion and mistrust.

This is my body which is broken for you...This is my blood which is shed for you.

Meditation on their journey, and honest study of our own struggles, reveals that the times we spend in the wilderness are necessary to our spiritual development. Consider that time in the wilderness is the gestation period for spiritual rebirth. A child in the womb has a simplified menu, nourished through direct contact with its mother. He receives only what his mother supplies. He feeds from his mother's blood. And growth leads to an appointed time to emerge and exercise what has formed over time. Likewise, spending time in Communion with our heavenly Father and feeding on His word -- receiving it and letting it fuel our thoughts, words and actions -- makes growth inevitable.

Give us this day our daily bread.

The Israelites spent years feeding on manna, a sustenance they could not stockpile. Their water often came from a rock, a source they could not reroute and reservoir. When we are in the wilderness, facing our struggles and crises, we are ultimately forced to rely on God's daily providence rather than our failing prowess and wit.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.

Just as the child in the womb feeds from the blood supplied by his mother, a nursing child draws nourishment from the very body of his mother, strengthened by its nutrients. He receives precisely what he most needs, exactly as he needs it. We who would grow in Christ continue to need Communion with him, to feed upon the living water he provides. We need to drink in his Word. Then it nourishes and becomes part of our newer expanded selves.

It is also at birth that a child, having outgrown the confines of the womb, is delivered into an expanded reality. So it was with the Israelites, who were sorely challenged by life outside the more predictable bounds of slavery. So it is with us, coming to understand life outside the bonds of sin.

As we grow, we take on our parents' form, so that those who see us know whose children we are. Once grown, our relationship with our parents deepens, as we remain their children still. Children of God mature and walk in His footsteps, speak His word and show His face to the world.

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