Our daughter Emily rescued a wild (I mean that in every way) cat named Rafreaka that defines “Feral”, as her clipped ear reveals (a sign that a homeless cat has been neutered and returned to the wild). Even though she’s pampered and well-fed for the past several years , she can’t seem to get the Feral out of her system. She will stand by the closet door where we keep her food yelling at us to give her more, even if we just fed her. She’s stuck in the Feral System.
Think for a moment what it would mean to be truly Feral. You would have to fend for yourself just to survive one more day. Every desire or need would be totally up to you, and you would be in life and death competition with everybody else around you for the scarce life-saving resources. This would cause perpetual fear and probably drive you to do things you never thought you’d do just to get by. And this would be so deeply ingrained in you that, if you were ever adopted into a home, your heart would certainly keep going back to being afraid and scrounging for the scraps you need.
You and I are just like Rafreaka. In Christ we have been fully and beautifully adopted into the Great Heavenly Family and our Heavenly Father has, by giving us his own Son, proven that he will perfectly and generously provide for exactly what we need, when we need it. Yet I stand by the door yelling at Him for more, more, more. The issue isn’t our demanding behavior, it’s our meager and wavering belief that we are actually in God’s family, under the outrageously loving protection and provision of our Father. Into this weakness Paul gives us outrageous hope:
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Despite what it feels like; despite the ingrained feral heart that I can’t shake, the truth is that I am loved beyond belief and have been given a Royal Inheritance that isn’t only the life to come, but the flood of love and blessings in the here and now, including the very presence of the Holy Spirit that has been given as a deposit guaranteeing the Hope that is to come.
Last week I mentioned the nearly-impossible-to-grasp truth that every shred of our sins have been perfectly paid for on the Cross…but that forgiveness is actually only HALF of the story. Leaving us sinless still leaves us short, because we need to be righteous, which we can’t remotely achieve on our own. And so the second half of the Gospel meets us in our Christ-Given sinlessness and envelopes us with Christ’s Robe of Righteousness.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
The Righteous Beloved Son of God met me when I was a Feral Orphan, and traded places with me. He took on my orphanhood when he was forsaken on the cross, and imputed me with his status as Beloved Son. And what’s more, when Jesus rose from the grave, he brought me along with him so that not even death can impact my status, my righteousness, my New Family.
So run to your Abba, Father, your Heavenly Dad. He’s calling you to come to him with your loves, fears, failures and plans, and trust in his power and love. You are not alone and no longer Feral. You don’t have to fend for yourself at the expense of your heart and everybody else around you. You have been adopted into God’s family and will never be abandoned.