The following is part of the sermon that our pastor preached. This part especially touched me because, at times in my life, I have mistakenly felt that I had to earn God's favor. How freeing it is to know that he chose to adopt me, regardless of anything I am or do!
'Think about it. You have no parents to love you and to care for you, so you're placed in a home or an institution with other kids who are in the same situation. And you have people who are looking after you. And all that you want is for someone to approve of you. For someone to be pleased by you. For someone to love you. And what the orphan thinks is 'What must I do to gain their approval? What acts must I perform so that someday somebody would come and accept me into their house - into their family?' And yet every night they go to bed, hoping beyond hope that someone might show favor. Someone might rescue them. And they live with this constant sense of fear. 'Will anybody approve of me?'
Paul says that type of spirit is not the Gospel. Because the Gospel teaches us that we do not live - or we are not led - by a spirit of slavery resulting in fear. Rather we are being led by a Spirit that gives us life and peace. We receive the gift of salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We don't have to fear that we will remain homeless of Heaven or hopeless anymore. The Gospel says this to us: 'You don't have to prove yourself'.You don't have to.
There's nothing that you have to perform in order to be accepted by God. He loves you. He's ready to receive you. He's ready to accept you just as you are. We don't receive slavery! Not in Christ! We receive righteousness. We receive justification. We receive rescue. And, to display that to those who literally need to be rescued from orphanages and homeless states is simply to display the Gospel itself. That we don't have to fear God's approval. That we don't have to fear even our own sin. But as the spirit of God leads us, he also leads us to victory in life. And even victory over death. John the apostle said it this way: Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right - the right - to become children of God (1:12)The right!And, even to those who would simply believe on His name, which John says does not come by your own works. It doesn't come by way of your birth or your birth order. You don't have to born of nobility. You don't have to be born in affluence. You don't have to be privileged in anyway. You just simply need to believe. and you will have the right then to declare yourself a child of God.
Our adoption is a God thing. It comes simply as an expression of his grace. . .
We receive the pleasure of God simply because he wants to be pleased with us. There's nothing we have to do to merit it. There's nothing we have to accomplish - to perform - to get it. He just loves us because he has chosen to adopt us. '