We often think of ourselves as God's adopted children. This got me all tangled up. In my heart, I believed that Jesus Christ, God's only begotten son and our adoptive brother, was Daddy's favorite. He deserves to be. He is truly that good, but I felt very insecure as a second-class sibling. I believed I belonged biologically to the Father of lies, but that God was willing to adopt me into His family when I agreed to reject my biological family and its ways. I became part of God's family, but I was always fearful, because I wasn't doing a good job of giving up my old ways. I remembered what Paul said about the natural branches versus the grafted branches. Was I going to find myself rejected by my adoptive Father because I didn't really fit the family?
When I was in high school, my family was friends with another family. This other family was a blended family, with biological, adoptive, and long term foster children. The biological daughter was sweet and obliging and cheerful and, well, spoiled. She was Daddy's girl, and she knew it. The adoptive daughter had been a juvenile delinquent, she seemed secure in herself alone, rather tough. The foster children had been abused. They were very shy and fearful.
That family haunted me for years. While I have seen some good examples of adoption, this was not. I saw how the parents treated the children, and it wasn't the same. The parents were very strict with the adoptive and foster children. They seemed to have good reason. The children hadn't been taught good behavior. They had a habit of lying if it might keep them out of trouble. One daughter had a history of theft. The parents wanted to teach righteousness, and they felt that strictness was the way to teach it, but that didn't explain why the children were treated differently with regards grades. Why would they be so gracious to the one when her grades were low and so stern with the others when their grades were middling? It wasn't ability. It was something else. She had favor with her family.
One day three years ago, as I was walking down our steep narrow staircase in Narok, Kenya, God brought John 17:23 to my heart. In His last prayer, Jesus prayed for us to know that God loves us, even as He loves Jesus. I had never noticed that "even as" before. Suddenly, I saw that we are not just tacked on at the end, as if God loves His favorite, Jesus, and He loves us too with a secondary kind of love. No, He loves us even as He loves Jesus. Jesus doesn't get special favorite son privileges that are withheld from us. We've got all the same privileges. We're God's beloved children, with whom He is well pleased.
I realized something else about that time. I am not an adoptive child. Please understand that I am not saying that adoptive children cannot truly belong to our adoptive families. My brother and his wife have shown me that. Their children, both biological and adoptive, declare that they have inherited their traits from their parents. What I am saying is that adoptive children often carry a deep sense of unbelonging in their hearts, and God doesn't want us to carry that. I am the biological child of God who was kidnapped out of my true family but who has finally been found. I am being folded back into the arms of the one who gave me birth. And my True Father, who knows the abuse I suffered under my kidnapper, is especially tender in all His dealings with me.