“He gave power to become children of God”

On the Christmas we celebrate, God gave us the power to become the children of God, as explained in John 1:1-18.

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.

Reflecting on this passage, two sections pop out at me. The second line of the second section, “he gave power to become children of God,” and the last three lines of the second section, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.”

God is not standoffish. He has always been there for His people. First, His chosen people, the Jews, and then for the rest of us who believe. Through His Son, the Father gave us the power to become children of God. We can choose to be His children. It says right there in the Gospel of John that we have the free will to choose. And I believe He works everyday to help us make that choice.

Those last three lines are so important, too. Moses didn’t see God, he saw a fiery bush. Elija didn’t see God, he heard him in a whisper. Zachariah, Joseph, and Mary didn’t see God, they saw and angel of the Lord. “No one has ever seen God,” says John in this passage. But the Son, Jesus the Christ,  “who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” Mary and Joseph saw Jesus. The disciples and apostles saw Jesus. And we read about Jesus in the Gospels — we read His words, read about His works, hear His parables and lessons. And we hear Jesus speak of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Through His life, Jesus revealed God to us. In previous passages we know that Jesus said that to know the Father is to know Jesus and to know Jesus is to know the Father. And it is an intimate portrait of a God who loves us and who cares for us and heals us.

So often, God is portrayed as a lightning wielding, fear casting, vengeance seeking, angry patriarch that we’d better not cross. That is the God of the Old Testament. When we witness the God revealed by Jesus, we see a loving father caring for His children. Sure, the Father wants His children to behave, but more than that He wants them to be healthy and caring and compassionate, merciful and sharing, loving as He loves them and loving His other children. And so, rather that petulant tenants of the world God created, He gave us all the power, through His loving Son, to become His loving children. And isn’t that a wonderful gift to receive on the birthday of His Son?

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