Becoming Children of God
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1: 12, NIV)
As a child, I was taught to treat others as I wanted to be treated. I grew up in a secular, non-Christian household and received moral teaching mainly through my Mom ("honesty is the best policy"), musicals such as South Pacific and West Side Story, books such as The Hardy Boys and Doc Savage, and reading about "Goofus and Gallant" in Highlights. Occasionally we would attend a Methodist church.
As I was coming of age, I was stimulated into searching for the truth of God by a high school English Literature discussion of Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." There was vigorous debate. I was impressed by the passionate objection of a young woman to the idea of a wrathful God suspending sinners over the "Furnace of Wrath" by a thread. This triggered my quest to determine the truth of the matter. I searched for God and found Christ in the fall of 1971, at Stephen F. Austin University (SFA). While studying the Bible in my dorm room, a light from Heaven flashed in my eyes, and two words came to my mind identifying that Light as Jesus Christ. It was then I knew and believed that Jesus was Alive and was raised from Death.
My first contact with an organized group of Christians was with The Open Door, a street ministry near SFA in Nacogdoches, Texas, a ministry associated with Fredonia Hill Baptist Church. It seems that God has connected me with Baptist churches from the beginning of my Christian life. I "left my nets" and dropped out of SFA to work full time with The Open Door ministry.
In my walk with Christ, I have visited and attended many churches and am of the opinion that wherever Christ is preached, he is present. I have come to know not only deeper things of God, but also my "dark side" and the "dark side" of his Church. I have been graced with unexpected experiences of Christ and his Holy Spirit, as well as wounded and grieved by the unexpected cruelty of those who were his shepherds. Out of my fear and woundedness, I wounded others in return. Afterwards, I rebelled against God and chose to live in a wilderness of my own making. Even there, God was present through Jesus.
I have been perceived as both a Fundamentalist and an apostate. But in my conflicts with others, I have learned the importance of compassion, and being human. What I learned from others is the need to recognize my own vulnerability, and my own need for relationship and connectedness, for I tend to be independent and self-isolating.
Did I resolve the tension of the high school classroom debate about Jonathan Edwards' sermon? No. I never read the sermon in full. I only remember the debate being between a God of condemnation and one of love. But what I know is that the Gospel is about forgiveness, redemption, and making people whole.
Peter says that we become partakers of the divine nature through the promises of God. The primary description of God's nature, according to John, is Love. Let us find a way to become children of God by blending the Father's love with our humanity as we walk together with Christ Jesus and his Holy Spirit.
Earl Brewer is retired. He is a member of Power & Light Sunday School and helps out with the Choir Music Library. He began attending South Main in 2016.