One of these years, our newborn, Emet, is going to realize he had no choice in his parents. He didn’t pick a time, place, or birth story. He has yet to decide when he will eat or when he will get his diaper changed, although he has effective ways to communicate his desires!
Just a few short years from now, even this perfect newborn is going to occasionally think he couldn’t have ended up with more out-of-touch or misunderstanding parents. And the day will come when he leaves home to a place of his own, to spend his time and live his story as he sees fit.
But he will always have a home in his parents and in our love for him. Even when he doesn’t recognize how, so many of his life’s decisions and directions will be shaped by his formative years with us.
John opens his Gospel with the ironic claim that the Creator came to His own Creation and was not recognized!
“He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (1:11)
Could I imagine visiting a forty-year-old Emet and his family, and watching the front door swing shut in my face, because none of them have a clue who I am? John continues by describing God’s adoption agency in Christ.
“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (1:12-13)
Now we see that God’s plan was not to convince His rebellious children to come home by reasons of blood-relations, history, or their own earnest decision. God’s plan was to re-birth His children through the power of faith. To remake us the kinds of children who recognize the Father’s voice and find their soul’s rest in their Father’s home.
Later in the gospel, Nicodemus struggled to understand this re-birth.
“Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (3:3-8)
We didn’t see the Spirit blow in, but nevertheless by baptismal water and the Holy Spirit’s power, we have been birthed again, children of God. We didn’t choose this, and Lord knows we can kick and scream like the feistiest newborn when we feel the loss of control. But, our Heavenly Father is good and gracious, merciful and abounding in steadfast love. God chose us in Christ, and by grace we come to see we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Peace, Pastor Tom