Last year, my husband and I went to a local farmer’s market a few weeks before Christmas. A woman was selling handmade jewelry that she makes at her home across town, and we chatted with her while we browsed her pieces.
“Where do ya’ll stay?” she asked us. When we told her, she said, “Oh, I have kin there,” and proceeded to tell us where all her family live in the area.
I didn’t grow up in the South, and I love when my new neighbors use terms that I am not used to hearing. Never in California had I heard someone say where their kinfolk is from!
I was reminded of the word “kin” a few nights ago when I was thinking about my relationship with God. As Christians, we often say that Christianity is “not a religion, it’s a relationship.” When we come to Christ for eternal salvation, we begin a new relationship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:4).
In our society, the word relationship encompasses so much. It brings to mind friendship, trust, communication, fellowship. And our relationship with Jesus entails knowing him, walking with Him, casting our fears onto Him, learning from Him, loving Him and receiving His love and forgiveness, and so much more. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we will ever have. It’s eternal, it’s beautiful. It’s messy and real and it’s alive, always building and growing as we spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word.
But though “relationship” is a loaded word; when it’s stripped down to it’s basic meaning I think, if possible, it means even more for us. I think it is the very essence of the Gospel. Because I think we forget sometimes that first and foremost, the Gospel means we have a new relationship to God. This is everything: my status, my name, my standing, and my identity. Who I am in relation to the God of all creation. And who does God say I am?
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 4 that after the fall of Creation in Genesis and before Christ, we were slaves to sin and the world (vs. 3). But because of our saving faith in God’s son Jesus Christ, Who defeated sin and death for us on the cross, we are now sons (John 1:12-13)! We have been redeemed and adopted into His family. We are sons and daughters. We are His children. We are kin to the King.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
1 John 3:1a
Everything changes when we live out of our kinship to God through Christ. We are not left as orphans (John 14:18). We have a position in the family of God. We are no longer slaves: we are children of God (Galatians 4:7). We are heirs, and we are dearly loved children (Ephesians 5:1). And because God is a perfect Father, He disciplines us, but He doesn’t mistreat us (Hebrews 12:4-12). He is kind, He can be trusted, and He is for us (Romans 8:31). He gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). He wants our ultimate best (Romans 8:28).
In his wonderful book Children of the Living God, Sinclair Ferguson puts it this way:
“But the knowledge that the Father has bestowed his love on us, so that we are called children of God — and in fact are his children (1 Jn. 3:1-2), will, over time, prove to be the solvent in which our fears, mistrust, and suspicion of God — as well as our sense of distance from him — will eventually dissolve. Then we will enter into a richer experience of confidence and assurance as the children of our Father in heaven.”
Remembering that God is a perfect Father should bring us peace in this chaotic world. Because of Christ, He sees me not as an enemy but as a friend. Not as a slave but as a son (or daughter). And God is a perfect Father who can be trusted. He always does what is right for His children. What do I have to fear if I am kin to the King?
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”