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Friday
Jan252019

GrandCHILDREN of God

According to my Cruden’s Complete Concordance of the Bible, there are ten references to the term “children of God” in the Greek Bible. Google may declare there are more than that, but Cruden’s concordance is good enough for me. The first edition was published in 1737, however, and thus might be academically a tad suspect. (My edition is from 1949. But what can I say; I am almost as old as Alexander Cruden.)

It is surprising there are only ten references to “children of God” in the New Testament. The Church has used that phrase with increasing frequency through the centuries, I suspect. Most of us imagine all Christians, along with all Jews, and perhaps all others as well, are children of God.

Probably we suppose that to be true because the term “children of Israel” is used so often in the Hebrew Bible (thirty-eight times, says Cruden), and the term “children of Judah” ten times. It is presumably correct to postulate that many of us fancy ourselves to be God’s children, whoever “we” are.

Yet nowhere in scripture, or anywhere else, are we told about any grandchildren of God. If, metaphorically, God has children, why doesn’t God also have grandchildren, and great-grands, and so on into generational infinity?

“Children of God” is a metaphor. None of us is literally a child of God in the same sense that all of us are children of our biological parents. In order to solidify our relationship to God, we may like to think of ourselves as divine offspring. Nevertheless, we are not divine offspring in the same way we are the actual offspring of our parents.

In any event, nobody is a grandchild of God in any sense. We are directly related to our parents by our biological birth, but we are only indirectly related to our grandparents by our birth. Therefore no children of God are grandchildren of God in any way close to the manner that human children are the grandchildren of their human grandparents.

In a large majority of families, it is parents, and not grandparents, who raise the children. That being the reality, grandparents must allow their own children to raise their grandchildren as they, the parents of those children, see fit.

Most grandchildren are a joy to most grandparents. As has been noted innumerable times though, after the grandparents have seen the grandchildren, the grandchildren happily go home. There they become, once again, the primary responsibility and concern of their parents. Grandparenthood is the delightful distinction of being two generations removed from the grandchildren.

What does all this have to do with the notion of “grandchildren of God?” Whatever or whoever God is, no one can be related to Him/Her/It indirectly. None of us is two generations away from God. Either we are directly related to God ourselves, or we are not related at all. First-generation connections to God are the only connections there are.

This means that no one else can make a connection to God on our behalf. Either we make the connection, or the connection is not made.

Christians refer to God as “Father” because that is how Jesus often referred to God. But no “children of God” are related to God because their parents were related to God, nor is anyone connected to the divine because their grandparents were connected to God. We must each establish the divine-human kinship for ourselves. 

One of the saddest realities in American and European churches and synagogues is that it is mainly grandparents who are still active. Too often, succeeding generations are not succeeding their parents and grandparents in religious congregations. It is a sardonic verification of the theological truth that there are no grandchildren of God.

 

John Miller is Pastor of The Chapel Without Walls on Hilton Head Island, SC. More of his writings may be viewed at www.chapelwithoutwalls.org.

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