Thoughts on Advent (5): A New Year, Adoption and the Advance of the Kingdom
Advent is officially over on December 24th and over these past weeks we’ve considered what the coming of Christ means for us. Of course, the end of Advent season doesn’t mean we don’t keep considering these things. And as we enter a new year it is appropriate to think of how Christ’s advent brought us adoption and how this fuels the advancement of God’s kingdom.
John tells us that Jesus came so that whoever believed in his name “he gave the right to become children of God who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Paul says the same thing: “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” (Gal. 4:4-5). In fact adoption is rooted in the love of God, the Father, before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-5).
This means that one of the main tasks of a Christian each day is to realize how much the Father has loved them in Christ, and then to live as a child of that love. The security of the Father’s everlasting love through the Son’s redeeming work drives out fear of condemnation and abandonment. Because our Father loves us he will protect us and provide for all of our needs. Now we can obey his Word and embrace his providential discipline, knowing he is always doing us good and even conforming us to the image of his Son.
This kind of adopting love also fuels the advance of the kingdom. John says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9). Part of abiding in this love is to obey Jesus: “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And this means bearing fruit that abides, i.e. the fruit of conversions (John 15:16).
In other words, Jesus’ coming mediates to us the Father’s love for the Son. We experience this as adoption love and this love fuels our devotion to Christ in the obedience of missions. So whether you’re considering evangelizing your neighbor or going on cross-cultural missions think of it like this: you’re gathering other brothers and sisters into the family of God. That’s a great resolution for 2017.