Not Orphans

“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.”

Jesus to His followers

{John 14:18}

I love Mother’s Day (remember to sign-up for our Mother’s Day drive-thru photo booth at each Rock Bridge campus) because I’m so thankful for my mom and her impact on my life. The question “Where would I be without her?” only helps me thank God for the gift of my mom and all moms.

Jesus’ disciples were asking a similar question as Jesus began preparing them for His physical departure from earth. What would they do without Jesus beside them? To give them assurance and hope, Jesus used the metaphor of an orphan to teach them that in fact He was not leaving them but would be with them as the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As unthinkable as it would be to forget our moms (especially on Mother’s Day!!), too many of us and our churches forget about the Holy Spirit (see blog post, “The Forgotten One”) with the practical result that we live as spiritual orphans.

Spiritual orphans exhibit some (or all) of these characteristics:

  • They live as if everything is up to them.
  • They think that God is distant, detached, negligent or non-existent.
  • They long to be accepted but unsure if or how they ever will be.
  • They live on the outside looking in.
  • They are good at religion (do’s and don’ts).
  • They are not good at a personal relationship with God.

However, the great news is this does not have to be us! God has given His Spirit and Jesus said that the Spirit living in us was BETTER THAN Him being beside us (John 16:7)!! We are not orphans, even though we may be tempted to live like one.

Perhaps I love this orphan analogy because my two boys were once orphans and so I’ve seen firsthand the orphan crisis in the world. But I also have seen the transformation of two boys who no longer live like orphans. They live as my sons. They call Beth “Mom” and me “Dad.” They live in our house not as temporary guests but permanent residents. They ask us for food, for help, for opportunities to have fun, and yes, for money! Why? Because they are no longer orphans, they are our sons!

Perhaps you are better at living as an orphan than as a child of God and the home to His Holy Spirit? Can you imagine what life would be like if we truly lived as if God was at home in our heart as a permanent resident and if we enjoyed the privileges of being His kids?!?

And because Jesus did everything legally required for God to adopt us (Romans 5:1-2) and because the Spirit of God has been poured out and into the hearts of those who believe (Romans 5:5), we are most certainly not orphaned by God but have the capacity to know and be filled with His fullness (Ephesians 3:16-19)!

So how do “not … orphans” live?

By Faith.

I remember when we first met our boys at their orphanage in Ethiopia. They had never met us, but they had heard we were coming for them as their legal parents. Those initial interactions were all by faith as they had to trust us as parents instead of as strangers.

God does not want to be a stranger. He wants to be our Father and live in us by His Spirit. This is always an act of faith.

With Confidence.

Let this sink in the all-powerful and eternal living God is with you and lives IN you.

Presence brings confidence but not the self-confidence the world says we need but the God-confidence that says in Christ I have all I need to fulfill my purpose and for everlasting joy.

In Relationship.

Eternal life is not going to heaven when you die. It is a living and active relationship with God that begins at salvation/adoption and continues forever into eternity. Therefore, we practice His presence because we are always in His presence “not … as orphans…” but as His very own children.

There will always be more of God to know, to enjoy, and to worship. The Holy Spirit in us is a “deposit”, a “down payment”, and a “first allotment” (2 Corinthians 1:22)—there is more to come and the best is yet to come!

matt

About Matt Evans

Matt Evans hand lifted at Rock Bridge Community Church_res (4)

Matt Evans is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Rock Bridge Community Church in Dalton, Georgia. Matt and his wife, Beth, grew up in the Dalton area and saw the need for a church that would reach the lost, broken, de-churched, and spiritually wounded. 

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