“See how great a love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God!” You can feel the excitement and awe about this fact in John’s words. It’s an incredible thing to realize that “now we are the children of God” and in the future “we will be like him; for we will see him just as he is” (1 John 3:1-2, WEB).
One of the greatest truths we can realize about the nature of God and the Christian faith is that God is a family and He is inviting us to become part of that family. God’s most-used analogies for how He relates to us are family-based, focusing on marriage and children. Both the Father and Son deeply desire a relationship with us and to make us part of Their family. In fact, as far as we can tell, that’s the main reason They created people in the first place.
Unity and Oneness
People ask me on this blog and also in-person why I don’t use the word “Trinity” to describe the nature of God. It’s not a description God uses for Himself and I think “God-family” is a more scripture-based phrase, so that’s why. I think we should stick as close as possible to using the analogies and descriptions that God uses to reveal Himself when we’re talking about who He is and how He relates to us.
The God-family reveals Themselves first using the Hebrew plural noun Elohim: “And God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, and according to our likeness: (Gen. 1:26, WEB). Both members of God (Father and Son) are involved in the creation of man, working in unity (Eph. 3:9).
Later, in Elohim’s dealings with Israel, They revealed another name — Yahweh (Ex. 3:14-15). We can think of this as God’s “proper name.” In a statement Jesus would later identify as part of the greatest commandment (Mark 12:28-30), the people were told “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one.” In Hebrew, it’s usually written Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad (the Jews believe it’s disrespectful to use God’s proper name, and so they substitute the word for “Lord”).
Yahweh is our God — Elohim, the Creator. Yahweh is also one — echad. This is not a word for a single entity, but for compound unity. A group of people joined together is echad (Gen. 34:16). A cluster of grapes is echad (Num. 13:23). A husband and wife are echad (Gen. 2:24). It’s the same type of unity expressed when Jesus says, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30, see also John 14:9; 17:11, 22).
Invited To Share Unity
This oneness is hard to wrap our minds around as humans. But even more incredible to realize is the fact that God wants to share oneness with us. In His longest recorded prayer, Jesus defined eternal life as knowing “the only true God” and Him who the Father “sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). His focus throughout this prayer is on relationships — between Him and His father, between those who believe “that they may be one,” and between Father, Son, and Their followers.
Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. … I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me. (John 17:20-21, 23 WEB)
Click here if you want to read the whole prayer. It’s one of my favorite passages to read slowly and meditate on because Jesus reveals so much information about how He and His Father relate to each other and to us.
To further help us understand the oneness we’re invited into, Paul shares that the command in Genesis for husband and wife to “be one flesh” (echad) relates to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:25-32). The oneness that is meant to exist between a husband and wife teaches us about the oneness Christ wants to have with every believer and with the collective church body.
Our Part In The Family
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son” (Matt. 22:2, KJV). The people God the Father is calling to marry His “only begotten son” (John 1:18; 3:16) are also being adopted as His children (Rom. 8:15-23; Eph. 1:3-8).
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal. 4:4-7, WEB)
This is at the core of God’s plan for us. Elohim wants to grow Their family so much that They created human beings, and They cared so much about us wanting to be in relationship with Them that They gave us free will. When we used that freedom to break the relationship with God through sin, The Father gave up His Son and the Son gave up His life to make reconciliation possible. Now we’re being adopted into the God-family and preparing to become a helper comparable to our elder brother, Jesus Christ (Gen. 2:18; Rev. 19:7).
As as the Father works in us through the Holy Spirit (the part of God that communicates with our human spirits) we become transformed into God’s spiritual image. As John says in the verse I opened this post, “we will be like Him” by the time we get to see Him face-to-face. What an incredible gift of love! What an wonderful family we’re called to become part of!
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