You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. ~ Galatians 3:26-27
There is a story about a man who came to his pastor’s home office feeling very troubled. “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try,” the man said, “I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord. I struggle with my sins. I find it hard to believe that God’s family would ever include someone like me.”
The pastor pointed to his dog and responded, “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained. He never makes a mess. He is perfectly obedient and he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He makes a mess, he throws his food around, he fouls his clothes. At this point in his life, he is almost entirely disobedient.” “However,” the pastor went on, “it’s not the dog who will one day receive my inheritance. My son will receive the inheritance.”
His point was to illustrate how it is that someone becomes a member of God’s family who will inherit heaven. The Bible says, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God—children of God—through faith.” Notice that it doesn’t say, “You are all children of God when your life looks good enough,” “when you keep God’s laws well enough,” “when you’ve been a Christian for long enough,” or “when you no longer sin too much.”
It’s easy to look at our lives and evaluate whether or not they look good enough to be worthy of God’s love. Have you worshipped God with your whole heart? Have you been kind enough to your neighbors? Have you given enough love to your family? Have you been patient enough with your children? Have you given a sufficient offering to God at church? Honestly answering those questions will only lead us to one conclusion: We don’t belong in God’s holy family.
And yet, God assures us in baptism that he covers a dirty, foul, sinful life with something new. “You who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” In other words, when someone is baptized, God looks at them and sees exactly what he would if he were looking at the life of Jesus Christ. He doesn’t see a disobedient life of filth. He sees a perfect life of obedience. He sees someone who belongs in his holy family.
Your baptism is a promise that, today, you are God’s child. You will be tomorrow too. And you have God’s word to live as such–to live in such a way that celebrates not only your place in God’s family, but also the truth that, as God’s child, nothing will keep you from one day receiving the inheritance of heaven.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making us your children through the precious gift of baptism. Help us to live obedient lives of faith out of thanks for bringing us into your family. Amen.