Monday, October 03, 2005

What We Can Learn About God from Being (Adoptive) Parents: Romans 8:14-16

“All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God…you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God.” Romans 8:14-16 (New Jerusalem Bible)

My wife and I were privileged to adopt a new born girl three and a half years ago, and she’s since developed definite behavior patterns. They include traits we can easily identify as “ours.” Given the lack of biological connection between us , that’s obviously not genetic.

So how did it occur? There seem to be two keys, both of which also show how we adults can pick up traits from our Heavenly Father.

Time Together
First and foremost is lots of time together. My wife is a stay at home mom, my job rarely requires me to work evenings or weekends, and I spend most of my free time with our daughter. The result is that she is almost always with one or both of us. And that is “quality time” in the sense that it’s relaxed and open, with us talking, playing, or otherwise interacting. Our daughter can’t help but absorb our ways because she's saturated with our presence.

That same dynamic is key to our taking on God's personality traits. Time with Him is crucial; the more time we consciously spend in His presence, the more of His characteristics we’ll pick up.

Scripture repeatly stresses the importance of continual interaction with God. It instructed the Israelites to create physical prompts to refocus them on God in the midst of their daily activities, Numbers 15:37-41; Deuteronomy 6:8-9, and describes the blessings that come from keeping God in mind. See Psalm 1:1-2 (New Jerusalem Bible)(“How blessed is anyone who…murmurs [God’s] law day and night”) and Psalm 119:97. Luke 18:1 recounts that Jesus taught the disciples about “their need for constant prayer.” Paul repeatedly stressed the importance of continual prayer in his general instructions to the churches. Romans 12:12, Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:2, and I Thessalonians 15:16-18.

Paying Attention
Almost as important is our daughter's perceptiveness of what’s going on in her relationship with us. Although she knows she's unconditionally loved, she’s quick to sense that we're sometimes less than pleased with her behavior and that other conduct makes us happy, proud, etc. In other words, she pays attention to the results of her conduct.

We likewise benefit by paying active attention to the consequences of our actions. We can learn a lot by considering which general behavioral patterns and specfic actions produce godly results and which do not. That analysis, if acted upon, can greatly aid our growth in the Lord.

Scripture commends such analysis. Proverbs 2:2 instructs that we should be “tune[d]…to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.” Proverbs 4:1 (New Jerusalem Bible) tells us to “pay attention, and learn what understanding is.” Similar instruction is found in Proverbs 4:20, 13:1, 15:31-32, and 22:17.

In sum, we can take on the ways of our adoptive Father through the same process my adoptive daughter is taking on my wife and I’s ways, by spending a lot of time together and paying close attention to the results of our actions. That helps His Spirit “join[] with our spirit[s] to bear witness that we are children of God.” Romans 8:15 (New Jerusalem Bible).

(Other images comparing our relationship with God with our relationship to our children can be found at What We Can Learn About God From Being Parents.
Images about conforming/yielding to God were posted September 12a, 18a, 18b, 18d, and 23; October 3 and 3a, November 6 and 21, December 8, 12, and 15, 2004 and January 10d, February 18, May 11, June 18 and 27, August 21 and 27, 2005.

Images about the process of growing/maturing in our walk with God were posted October 3a and 17, 2004; June 11 and 18; July 20, August 21 and 27, 2005.)

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