7 Then John said to the crowds who came to be baptized by him, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire.” 10 The crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11 He answered, “Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.”
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. They said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13 He replied, “Collect no more than you are authorized to collect.”
14 Soldiers asked, “What about us? What should we do?” He answered, “Don’t cheat or harass anyone, and be satisfied with your pay.” Luke 3:7-14, CEB
Yesterday mom began writing about the fact that being adopted in God’s family means something for us. It means we have a different father figure, a different mother figure, possibly different brothers and sisters. It means we commit ourselves to a new way of living as we look to this family for guidance in how to live.
This is a bit different than what we see people wrestling with in the Gospels. Faith was not just something handed down from parents but it was thought to be a part of their very DNA. Because the Israelites were “God’s people”, they began to believe that it was their ethnicity that made them faithful. Not everyone believed this, I’m sure, and it certainly doesn’t mean that those who did were bad people who didn’t try to live faithfully. But, it was a thought that was out there. John the Baptist warns against this kind of thinking here. He reminds the people that God creates the faithful, and he can do that from anything, even stones (this is tongue-in-cheek, God isn’t going to literally make stones faithful people). His point is that, being a “child of Abraham” (being a descendant of Abraham, being Jewish) isn’t what makes a person faithful. Instead, it’s living the lifestyle of a person who is an adopted child of God.
We still get a little confused on this today. Our issue isn’t the same. We probably don’t wonder whether or not we’re Jewish. But, we may get confused about the importance of the life we lead. I heard a woman recently say that her alcoholism shouldn’t be a problem for her husband because she was a “redeemed” child of God. I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that she thinks her belief in God is more important than her ability to live as his child. That seems like shaky ground to me.
What problems do you see with this kind of thinking?
More on this in a few days.