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. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:1-7

We need healthy experiences of community to thrive. In Galatians 4, Paul writes about the experiential aspects of joining the new family of God through Jesus.

Objective Status of Adoption

Paul compares the people of Israel to an underage heir who is no different from a slave. Jesus, God's Son, is sent into the world to redeem those under the law-- not just to pay the penalty for our sins, but that we might receive adoption as children. 

Despite having this status, sometimes we don't always feel it or believe it about ourselves. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, who says to his father, "I am no longer worthy to be called your son;" he knows he is a son, but does not feel that he has a right to claim that sonship. It isn't always enough for us to know something as a fact-- something needs to take place for it to become tangible in our lives.

Subjective Experience of Adoption

In verse 6, Paul writes that "God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father'." It can be hard to believe that someone loves us despite our faults, or that someone loves us when we find it so hard to love ourselves. What the Spirit of Christ does is give the assurance that, yes, He loves us. Yes, we are part of His family.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him." (Psalm 34:8)

We can cultivate the experience of adoption through prayer, and we can apply it through participation-- taking part in the body of Christ to which we all belong as sons and daughters!

Discussion Questions for Small Groups
  1. Many studies describe the increased sense of loneliness in urban environments. Why do you think more people struggle with loneliness in large cities?
  2. In Galatians 4:6, Paul talks about God sending the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” How does the term “Abba” communicate a sense of intimacy with God? Can you share a moment from your life when you felt a deep emotional connection with God as your Father? If not, how might this connection be cultivated?
  3. How does being part of a family shape our sense of who we are? What are some ways membership in God’s family might shape God’s people? Can you share a personal experience on how your identity has been shaped at Runnymede?
  4. How might Christians apply the principle of “bearing one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) specifically to the loneliness that some individuals may experience? In what ways can the church community foster the feeling of family for those struggling with isolation?


Missed this Sunday's sermon? Watch it here!