Study #2: John 1:12-13
"But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children– children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God."
I must admit, in my own study of the first chapter of John's Gospel, I have often skipped right over these two verses. Oh, I'm sure I've read them; however, I think I've been so focused on the next verse, John 1:14, the famous passage of "The Word became flesh," that I've neglected what comes immediately before that great description of the Incarnation.
But, the other night, I was reading the Prologue of John, and attention was caught by the phrase "not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband's decision, but by God." And I began to think of that, and how incredible it is. We worship a Savior, whom we believe to be the unique Son of God. That, in itself, is a great and awesome thing to consider (and I mean "awesome" in its literal sense, inspiring awe). But how amazing it is to consider that, by receiving Him, we also can become children of God!
It also occurred to me that we sometimes unwittingly think of this process in reverse. We love our children so much (and rightly so!), that we have this idea of humans beginning life as "children of God." We speak of how pure they are, and how, if we could have the faith of our children, the world could be such a better place. This is all well and good, and yet, it misses the stark truth that our children have been born into a sinful world. And, if things were to remain as they are, they would be doomed to a life of sin and separation from God. But, glory be to God, they have a chance, through the salvific acts of Jesus, to truly become God's children, in a very real and eternally lasting sense. This is a wonderful miracle to meditated on.
One more interesting thing to consider, before I open this up to other comments and thoughts. The commentary in my Lutheran Study Bible pointed out that it is not in our own power to achieve our status as children of God. How true. But this brought to my mind the ongoing debate in theology between Calvinism and Arminianism. I imagine one could look at the process of "receiving" Christ from either point of view: the Calvinist would emphasize Christ's work of offering us the opportunity to become children of God, whereas the Arminian would emphasize our response to that offer. Is receiving Christ something we do, or something God enables us to do? Do we receive Him in the same way we receive a gift? Or do we receive Him as we receive an honored guest? It seems to me that there are aspects of both meanings to the process: the former focuses on what is received, while the latter on what we do to prepare for the reception. I would certainly be interested in hearing others' ideas on the idea.