[Nov 06]--Universal Fatherhood?

John 8:39-47

            Here’s another term for you: ecumenism. Webster’s defines it as “Movement toward unity or cooperation among the Christian churches..” In other words, it’s an attempt to unite everyone in the world who calls himself/herself a Christian, no matter what doctrinal issues on which we disagree. One of the slogans which has been associated with this effort to unite all Christians is “The universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.”

            I’m totally in favor of working with other believers as much as possible, and I’m obviously not in favor of dividing the church unnecessarily. But if a group of people tries to spout nonsense which is completely at odds with what the Bible clearly teaches, then I have to part ways with them. And this notion of the universal Fatherhood of God is so easily refuted from Scripture that I have little patience for it.

            Now as I mentioned last month, there's a sense in which God is the “Father” of everyone. Paul affirmed this when he was preaching in Athens to pagan philosophers: “We are his offspring.” He's given all of us physical life, he provides for our physical needs, and he cares about us. But that's only for this life. Once we pass on to the next one, all of that ends, and everyone ends up with their real spiritual father. All of God’s redeemed children spend eternity with him, and everyone else spends eternity with their father.

            I know that this is very difficult for us to accept, but according to Jesus himself, everyone only has one of two spiritual fathers. Those who don’t belong to God belong to Satan. The problem is that when I say that someone is a “child of Satan,” everyone automatically assumes that I’m claiming they're somehow demon-possessed, like something out of The Exorcist. I don’t mean that, nor do I mean that the non-redeemed are never capable of any goodness, any kindness, any self-sacrifice, etc. God’s common grace ensures that this world and its people (even those who don’t belong to Christ) are never as bad as they could be.

            But according to Jesus, all of us were the spiritual offspring of the original Deceiver and Murderer, and our actions eventually reveal this. The reason the religious leaders were plotting to murder him is because they were carrying out the will of their father. Their actions revealed their spiritual heritage.

            Another misunderstanding I want to avoid is the impression that we as children of God are intrinsically better than those who belong to Satan. None of us deserve to be adopted into his family, and the only goodness in our hearts and lives comes from him, not from ourselves.

            But we do no one any good if we don’t tell them the truth. If someone is walking around thinking that they're God’s child just by being physically born or by being better than Hitler or Osama Bin Laden, we have to disabuse them of that notion.

            But what about us? Is there anything here we can apply to ourselves as believers? Well, a recurring theme in John’s gospel and in his letters is that your spiritual heritage will reveal itself in your actions. If your actions show no improvement in following Christ, then something’s wrong. Am I confusing the outside world as to whom I belong?

Lord Jesus, I belong to you. You’ve adopted me into your family, and you purchased me by your blood. Do I show that in the way that I act, the way that I talk, the way that I treat others?

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