“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”
Do you remember what it felt like to be included as a kid? Do you remember picking teams at recess and the exhausting front you had to put up to pretend like you didn’t care the order in which you were picked? Do you recall ever missing an invitation to a party that “everyone” was attending? Most of our sense of inclusion is a reflection of our extensive knowledge of exclusion that has shaped our lives and our understanding of the world. As I watched an unhealthy amount of football this weekend, I was struck by the commercial where the little boy has his ball taken by bullies and they tell him to come back when he has a team to play against them. He then assembles an all-star squad of 10 year olds to return and smash the bullies for messing with him. This is exactly how I have dealt with exclusion in my life and I’m sure many of you have too. When we find ourselves left out of a group, we just go find another group to be associated with and in the back of our head, hope that our new cooler group will kick the crap out of the group that left us out in the first place. This can be a temptation with the family of God and happens all the time among circles within the faith. There is unspoken competition between churches that can’t wait to annihilate each other either in attendance or conversions or programs or even just in softball (we may be putting together a fall team btw). This attitude of competition does not sound like “bringing unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” We have been given such an abundance of wealth in Christ that we all too often run away from in favor of the approval of others. I don’t know if any of you ever had this experience, but I remember vividly the joy of my dad coming on field trips with my class when I was in elementary school. The clamor of who was riding in what car or what groups were assigned all melted away because I knew I had the coolest dad in the world and he was way better than hanging out with any of my dorky elementary school friends. Their approval completely melted away compared to spending the day with my dad, even if it was at a ridiculous petting zoo or a planetarium. How often do we trade the joy of our Father for the approval of our dorky friends on earth?
So what is deterring your attention away from the, “riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us,” in favor of a much lesser prize? Have you lost sight of the immense delight of your adoption into the family of God? Where in your life do you need to run and spend time with your Father because you have been seeking the approval of others? Where do you need to ski off the cliff of uncertainty like Samuel and follow your Father wherever he has called you? As you go into your week, be reminded of the strength of the team behind you and the completed work of our Brother Jesus on the cross. Be encouraged and take great joy and pleasure in the inheritance you have as an adopted son of the King and Creator of the universe.