The Father, the children, and the whole family
Who is God? There are many answers to this, but only one that really matters: the image that Jesus Christ revealed. If we open ourselves up to this image, we can be sure to achieve everything that is possible.
The Bible text for the divine service in Halifax—located in Nova Scotia in Canada—on 18 June 2023 was from the first epistle of John: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3: 1).
The letter warns the first Christians against false teachers, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained. As a matter of fact, they did not believe in the divine nature of Jesus. “What is the connection with us?” he asked and explained that even today there are many distorted images of God.
The distorted images of God
For some Christians, God is “the judge who is waiting for the last judgement and will punish all these awful sinners,” the Chief Apostle said. Others, he continued, behave like pagans towards an idol: “They think that God can be bought. They think if you bring enough offerings, if you do the right things then you can buy His grace and His blessing.”
Then there are those who think that God must rule the world and fix everything in it. In fact: “Some even think they should help God. They want to rule the world in His name.” In this connection Jesus said: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
And finally, there are people who think God is very selective in His love: that He loves some more than others, that He has His preferences which are based on origin, behaviour, religion, and belief. They believe that poverty or wealth signifies whether God loves a person. They believe that God wants to punish sinners and that they have received the mission from God to carry this out. “That’s nonsense,” the Chief Apostle clarified as he continued.
God is the Father of all human beings
Jesus Christ is the image of God, that is, He is God Himself: “God is your heavenly Father.” That does not mean that God is a man. “God is not male, He is not female. He is far above human nature.” And: “The psalmist says God takes care of us like a father and like a mother.”
God as Father signifies much more:
- “He is the author of life. He created human beings and has authority over them.”
- “All human beings can talk to Him as to a father,” whether good or evil, whether just or unjust. “He knows our needs and provides for us.”
- “God is the loving Father, full of compassion, and He is waiting for human beings to come back to Him—all human beings.”
All human beings are God’s children
“We have to be aware that all human beings are children of God,” the Chief Apostle made clear. “He is the Father of all human beings and He loves them all. He wants to save them, not punish them.”
There is a further meaning: “Children of God in spiritual terms are those who have been reborn out of water and Spirit.” They have the possibility to inherit eternal glory. But this is not just a question of having received the sacraments, the Chief Apostle said. Because true children of God
- bear the name of the Father and the Son and keep His name holy through their conduct.
- trust their Father no matter what happens.
- are led by the Holy Spirit and not driven by their human nature. They are free.
- know that there is nothing more important in their lives than this divine childhood.
One family despite differences
“God wants to gather His children to lead them into His kingdom,” the Chief Apostle said. “He wants His children to be one and to overcome their differences.” This will not necessarily become any easier: “Because in today’s society, people tend to insist on their differences. How are you going to build a society that is divided? No wonder this society is becoming more and more divided and selfish.”
“God wants His family, His children, to be one. The place where they can overcome their differences is the church,” he said with reference to Apostle Paul: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 28).
“What we have in common is much more important than what divides us,” Chief Apostle Schneider pointed out. “With the help of the Holy Spirit we can overcome all these differences and really be one in Jesus Christ. And that is our goal.”