“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4–5
When the time was right, Paul says, the Son of God appeared to the world.
This is time of year we celebrate the way in which the Son of God appeared, we celebrate His name, ‘Emmanuel’, and we examine the characters surrounding His birth, His appearance. Today, I want to draw your attention to an aspect of the Advent you may not have considered before: Why did the Son of God appear?
Paul makes it clear in this passage of Galatians that The Son of God—The Good Shepherd—appeared to liberate people from bondage so that they might be adopted as sons and daughters and placed into the very fold of God!
Jesus, as the true Son of God and the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), came to ‘give His life for the sheep’, and bestow a Spirit of Adoption on the lost. This was how you and I came to be in the fold of God! Not only were we placed under His protection in His sheepfold, but we were also liberated from what oppressed us, healed from diseases that plagued us, and set free from sins that entangled us! If that weren’t enough, we received the loving seal of adoption from Christ, that we might sit in the Heavenly fold–with Him who died for us!
Paul emphasizes how wonderful this act of adoption is when he says, “Creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
Even creation eagerly longs for and welcomes the revealing of other sons and daughters of God—those whom the Son of God came to liberate and bring into the fold! That was His mission, and it is ours.
Yet sometimes, we lose sight of this mission and begin to believe the function of a son or daughter is what the culture defines as relevant or even what is propagated by the Church. This can equate to hyper-focusing on (as well as patting ourselves on the back for) above-par church attendance, association with certain organizations, benevolence, and a host of other kind acts that, while fitting with the biblical admonition to show our faith BY our works (James 2:18), don’t always directly liberate people and bring them into the fold. Even good acts, if allowed to become our primary focus, can cause us to stray from His mission (liberating people so that they might be adopted as sons and daughters) and can all too quickly become a source of moral superiority.
Some may ask, “So, how will we recognize a true son or daughter when they appear?” The answer is twofold. The first lies in the same way that real currency is distinguished from counterfeit money: When compared to the real thing, the artificial becomes apparent—but sometimes only to the well-trained eye. The second way is to compare the currency to the original printing plates. Genuineness and authenticity are measured by comparison to the original source. And in the case of true sons and daughters, the offspring is compared to the parent, the image-bearer to the image Himself.
During this advent season, as we remember why Christ came, may we reflect Him in our lives by helping liberate people from bondage. The opportunity is just around the corner. Soon you and I will be with family we have not seen in a while, or perhaps new friends around the dinner table. Let’s take advantage of this time and help to liberate those who feel lost and who though they may not know it, are looking to be adopted by the Father. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in this process today and then be courageous, stepping out into the opportunities He has brought to you.