Heir’s of God’s heavenly Kingdom

Children of God

  • Have you ever heard of a family argument that was so bad that members of the family could not come and sit at the same table to eat? I think we all start hearing stories like this or maybe we find ourselves in the middle of a story like this right around those big holidays… Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. The tension and the arguments and the opinions get so divisive that we cannot conceive of coming together to share a meal.

    And we begin to label one another as misguided, wrong, shameful, lost.

    Today in our Scripture, we find Paul urging us to remember that we are not defined by our divisions and the labels we give each other because we are all one in Christ Jesus.

    He writes: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” When we are baptized, Paul explains here, we get new clothes… a new wardrobe and this new uniform, this new set of Jesus clothes… makes it hard for us to focus on all the labels that once divided us. He says with our new Jesus clothing, we are “no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female… no longer misguided… no longer shameful or lost.

    Paul goes on to explain in his letter to the Galatians that when we are baptized we become children of God and heir’s of God’s heavenly Kingdom. In his letter to the Philippians he says that we become citizens of heaven. So essentially, Paul is telling us that when we become Christian, we get a new citizenship in the Kingdom of God and we get a new set of clothes.

    What does this mean for us?

    It means that the first thing people see when they look at us is not the labels that the world gives us… but rather the new clothing we have been given in Christ. We are fully seen and fully known as a citizen of heaven, a child of God. And this is transformational! ---

    I have loved reading and listening to sermons for a long time now and so I feel like I know a good sermon when I hear one, and I recently was listening to a really dynamic sermon by a pastor who is leading a large and incredibly thriving church. This pastor had a way of turning words and phrases to build faith and illuminate scripture that I just found brilliant. So so good. Then in the middle of his sermon he told the story of how he came to faith. He has been very open about it, but I had never heard it. He said, when I first came to church 10 years ago.. I was so broken…. I first thought… You are now leading a large, thriving church and preaching in such brilliant ways and you only came to faith 10 years ago? That’s brilliant in itself… Then he went on… “When I first came to church, I was broken. I had just been let out of prison…. and I felt such guilt and shame.” 

    Prison. This man had sinned. This man had fallen short of the glory of God… From the world’s perspective, this man seemed unfit to do anything much less be a trusted and successful leader.

    But in Christ he was given new clothing. He explained that when he first came to church after being let out of prison, the greeters and the people in the pew beside him first saw him as nothing other than a child of God… a fellow citizen of heaven… they first saw Christ in him… they first saw his love of God… even if at the time his faith was the size of a mustard seed… they first saw their common bond in Christ Jesus and welcomed him. He explained that he was overwhelmed by how he was treated at his church… by how he was treated as an individual and not just a label.. ex-con. 

    Jesus clothing allows us to live not out of a label the world puts over us “ex-con who won’t amount to anything and can’t be trusted”… but rather it allows us to live out of the label God puts over us.. “Brilliant preacher and leader of a large and thriving church who is trusted and beloved.”

    We may not be ex-cons, but we know that we are all sinners. We have all sinned. Many of us feel just as unworthy and broken as this preacher did when he first set foot in church… But remember… you are clothed in Christ… Here you are known and seen as God sees you, a child of God… And that means that you no longer need to live out of a broken place… Can you imagine if that preacher had just lived his life as an ex-con… unworthy to set foot in a church… what would his life be like now… He would still be leading the life of an ex-con… but instead… He put on his Jesus clothing… and was seen as a child of God… that allowed him to live out of God’s calling in his life…

    You do not need to live out of a broken place… you can now live out of a place of love, a place of freedom, a place of joy and God’s calling in your life.

    Jesus has no interest in helping you become the person the world thinks you are… Jesus wants you to become the person he made you to be, a citizen of heaven, not defined by the divisions and labels of this world, but called by God, clothed in Christ.

    What else does it mean to be a citizen of heaven, clothed in Christ? The incredible thing is that this not only transforms individuals it transforms communities…

    Just as others see us first as a child of God, we also see others first as a child of God.

    In the Kingdom of God the first thing we see is not the labels that we give one another.. shameful.. lost… broken… the first thing we see is not the things that divide us….…In the Kingdom of God, the first thing we see when we look at one another is our Jesus clothing… the first thing we see   is our common citizenship in Christ.

    This is radical. I do not need to tell you about the divisions and arguments that have saturated our country and our world over the past decade. People are more digitally connected than ever, but in fact we are also more disconnected and divided then ever. We know that teens how spend hours talking to friends via screens are less able to understand facial cues and so further disconnected and divided from those around them as adults.   

    As the world divides and disconnects us, Jesus brings us together. Perhaps not at the Thanksgiving table, but here at the Lord’s table, we are able to come together with people who hold vastly different opinions… we are able to come together with people who think of themselves as shameful, lost… we are able to come together at this table and share a meal….and we do so not because we don’t know we are different… not because we are hiding the fact that we are different….. but because that is not our focus.

    We come and sit together and fellowship together and share a meal together and work together and get to know one another because our focus is on Christ… the first thing we see in one another is Christ in us

    We know that groups of people who do not get along are unable to accomplish very much together. So this common bond in Christ is radical and powerful. It is not what the world would have us do, but we hear in Scripture that all things are possible through Christ who saves us… more is possible when we are in Christ… when our focus with one another is not on what divides us but rather on him who unites us.

    In Christ all things are possible.. In Christ we are clothed in glory, citizens of heaven, united.

    Of course we know that even in the body of Christ, there is conflict, there is division. But today Paul urges us not to get distracted by the labels and divisions of this world, but remain focused on our common citizenship because as a community together in the Kingdom of God, we are able to do far more than we ever thought possible. We are able to live not out of division, but out of God’s call on our community.

    So as you prepare yourself to come to this table… as you come forward to this table remember also that you are seen by those around you not as shameful or broken… but as a fellow citizen of heaven, a child of God… and when you operate out of your citizenship in Christ… you will be transformed… Christ in you will accomplish far more than you ever thought possible.

    And… as you walk up with your friends and neighbors and your loved ones to the Lord’s table to share in this communion feast… See the Jesus uniform you all are wearing… see the radical step you are taking away from the divisions of this world and toward our common bond in Christ and know that when we are united in Jesus… Christ in us is able to do far more than we could imagine… … . In Christ all things are possible.