The call for unity and peace has never been greater. The world is searching for an appropriate answer for the political, religious, and racial tensions that overwhelm the news every day. Unity seems to be the best solution. If all positive people unite together to obtain peace and love, we’ll be alright. The problem – while peace and love can be unifying characteristics, it doesn’t mean we believe the same thing.
In a recent homily, Pope Francis said this:
“All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated.”1
Are we really “children of the same God”? Is his understanding correct? Can there be more than one meaning to that phrase? I believe Pope Francis is correct in what he means, but misleading in what he said.
God is the Father of Humanity
From the beginning, God created both male and female in His own image (Gen 1:27). God is the Father of Adam. In Luke’s genealogy, Jesus is literally related to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth.God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth. #Gen1 #Luke3 Click To Tweet
Sin Changed the Relationship
When Adam and Eve sinned, the relationship between humanity and God changed (Gen 3). God remained as our Father, but we failed to remain his faithful children. In family terms – because of sin, we are no longer natural heirs of the Kingdom. God is our Father, but our sin has forfeited our rights as His children.
God Made a Covenant with Israel
As history unfolded, God made a covenant with Abraham, and through him all of Israel, to be a great nation – “the children of God” (Gen 15, 17; Ps 82:6). The Israelites would be God’s chosen people. Even then, however, the people turned away and lost their blessing (Jer 2; Hos 11). God remained as their loving Father, but His children relentlessly turned away.
Until the turning point – when Christ was born.
Jesus Provides Adoption
Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, we can become reunited as God’s true children. He always was, always is, and always will be our Father, but the only way we can receive the “right to become children of God,” is by “receiving [Jesus] and believing in His name” (John 1:12).
As Paul wrote:
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:26-4:7, NIV)
Until we accept Jesus we are like slaves and have no right to Kingdom. We are all created by the Father, but naturally heirs of our sin. When we accept Jesus and follow Him, we not only become “adopted children,” but also “rightful heirs” of the eternal Kingdom to come.
Where we misunderstand each other…
Pope Francis is a positive wildcard in the Catholic Church right now. He is stirring a new generation of Christians to engage in acts of service and love. His true “Good Samaritan” acts, like washing the feet of Muslim migrants, is truly humbling and inspiring.2 When he said all are “children of the same God,” he was referring to our origin, not our salvation. Our word choice and our understanding of those words, can dramatically impact authentic unity.
I believe God is my Father.God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children. #ChildOfGod Click To Tweet
I believe Jesus, God’s son, is the only way to the Father.
But I also believe in peace.
I believe in choice.
I believe all people (who God created) have the ability to choose their path.
That means all people are created and Fathered by God, but not all people will choose to become rightful children of God. We are not ALL children of God simply because He is our Father. God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children.
How have you used the phrase “Children of God?” Are you a “child of God?”
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|⇑1||Pope Francis, “Gestures of Fraternity Defeat Hatred and Greed,” Vatican Radio, March 24, 2016, http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-gestures-of-fraternity-defeat-hatred.|
|⇑2||Elahe Izadl, “Pope Francis washes the feet of Muslim migrants, says we are ‘children of the same God’”, The Washington Post, March 25, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/03/25/children-of-the-same-god-pope-francis-washes-the-feet-of-muslim-migrants/?utm_term=.84c49304e340.|