There is no doubt that division characterises much of what we experience on this earth. Indeed, from the time of Adam, man has been alienated from God. Furthermore, division is a device of Satan in the spiritual conflict. Things are not as they could have been and, yet, we tend to accept things as they are.
Christians are told to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3), which implies that unity can be broken unless positive effort is made. If this applies to Christians then we should understand that unity is likely to be even more fragile among those of other faiths. We must, of course, dig below the surface to understand what true unity is. We are not talking about an external form of unity which does not come from the heart. Many people can adopt a way of behaving that gives the impression of unity, while being deeply lonely in reality, and probably not really understanding the possibility or potential of true spiritual unity. Islam, for example, would claim to unite people, yet I have noticed a deep hunger among Muslims for friendship. Many people from a Muslim background desire, more than anything, a close friendship with someone. Yet until friendship is made there is deep mistrust. After the friendship is made one bad incident can shatter that friendship and make relationships worse than they were to start with. Such can be the frailty of the concept of unity, and this can have implications for nations as well as individuals. Indeed, this is not only a matter of practical concern for our believing communities, it is related to our mission in the world. Our concept of unity can, in particular, influence our ideas about God and His Son. Muslims who, we have said, may have a very fragile unity in their own experience, a forced unity through fear of disobeying the ruling authorities and religious teachers, are among those who find it most difficult to accept that God can have a Son. However, it is in understanding the relationship between Yeshua and His Father that we begin our understanding of what unity really is.
Whether Muslim or Jew or Christian or, for that matter, anyone else, God put us into families, and this is, perhaps, the place where the concept of unity has the greatest potential for being understood. Yet in this fallen world the evidence is that, even here, we can rarely know the purity of the concept of unity. Thus in this Twentieth Century we are likely to attach significance to the concept of unity according to our habits, our expectations, our experience and our observations of the society around us.
Thus, even when we read the Scriptures, we can fail to understand the depth of meaning of some of the concepts. The Scriptures speak clearly of Yeshua as the Son of God. John the Baptist bore testimony to this: “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” (John 3:35). Yeshua spoke of Himself as the Son of God: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” (John 5:19-20). The Holy Spirit confirms that Yeshua is the Son of God: “But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth … He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:13-14). The inner witness brought by the Holy Spirit convinces the believer that Yeshua is truly God’s Son. The Father spoke from Heaven concerning His Son: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to Him.” (Luke 9:35). The disciples acknowledged that Yeshua is the Son of God, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). Yeshua spoke of unity with the Father: “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).
Interestingly, the Bible also speaks of Adam as the son of God, for example in the genealogy of Yeshua (Luke 3:38).
Deeper Concept Needed
So what of this concept of sonship? Unlike the caution, almost fear, with which Muslims approach the idea of sonship to God, the Bible is quite clear, and Yeshua was unambiguous in His claims. So surely there is an important issue here that we should approach with some boldness and, because it is God’s intention that we do so, we are likely to discover depth and beauty – a beauty that comes by revelation and a beauty that can be passed on to others.
Shame on us for reducing the concept of sonship to a kind of dictionary definition which holds the concept of physical birth but does not shatter the experience of separateness. Adam rejected his birthright of oneness with God and that has been passed on through the generations. In the concept of sonship we can accept an equality with a human father, as is the Jewish custom, but we are likely to interpret this equality in physical terms. We can accept special closeness and favour because of family ties in our concept of sonship, but again in human terms. But do we, in reality, accept far less than was intended by God from the start? As a result of this do we fail to see and to convey to others what Yeshua really demonstrated when He entered the world as the Son of God? Do we think of God and His Son as in our image, instead of seeing what He intended for us in His image?
Yeshua spoke of absolute unity with the Father, so surely we must see that there is deep reality of Father and Son being one according to God’s plan. He spoke of only doing what the Father was doing. This was the full consequence of His being the Son of God and there is no need to water it down. Later on Paul was inspired to tell us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).
So what should our attitude be? Well surely our first step should be to reject our own concept of sonship and fatherhood as part of the blurred image. In the renewing of the concept we should simply look to Yeshua. That is how sonship and fatherhood was intended from the start! Complete unity, complete harmony, each one part of the other in deep reality.
Possible for Us
Thus, in our tackling the question of the Son of God, in our lives and our witness, it is not so much about arguing the point based on our human understanding of sonship. First we have to establish through looking at Yeshua, what sonship really means from a heavenly perspective. We must renew the very concept of sonship. Once this is seen (and it will be by revelation) we will see that it can be a reality for us too (one day). Through Yeshua, we can all be gathered as sons in the true unity of the Spirit, recovered into the relationship that was intended from the first. “In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5). If we can only make such wonderful things plain, how many lonely and separated people will come the deepest of relationships the one who has shown us, who is, the way back to Father?
Yeshua the Son (capital “S”) begotten of the Father, with all the Divinity of the Father and all authority put into His hands. Many sons (small “s”) invited by Him into a family relationship. There is much more to be said on the conditions for receiving this privilege of sonship, but the principle of a family call can bring freedom to respond. This is a profound issue for meditation. The Sonship of Yeshua is our first consideration, defining, as it does, what sonship is in its highest form, but His Sonship is not separated from our redemption into an inheritance to be like Him, restored to full sonship with our Father in Heaven.
(Reprinted from Tishrei Vol 4 No 2, Son of Man/Son of God, Spring 1996)