… the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15)
Mike Tyson, a boxing legend, may help us understand why Christians call God Father. Tyson was simply phenomenal in the ring and few of his opponents could survive a fight without a knockout. He became a heavyweight champion at the age of 20 years, four months. It is not surprising, therefore, that boxing analysts focused so much on his potential as a fighter and praised him for the abilities he had demonstrated.
Strangely enough, no one mentioned his coach Cus d’Amato, the man who mentored him and adopted him as a son. D’Amato decided to adopt Tyson after the death of his mother because he realized that if the fighter was out of his sight, he became undisciplined, involving himself in drugs and street brawls. As soon as he brought him home, the coach made it clear to Tyson that it was his house, his rules. There would be no drugs and he had to abide by the curfew in place. Unfortunately, he died 16 months before Tyson won his belt. Many people believe that if D’Amato was alive, he would have moderated the negative influences in Tyson’s life.
God’s mission to save us is analogous to the adoption story above. God realized, after giving his laws to the people, that they cannot be saved without his radical intervention. Therefore, He promised a new covenant. This time, the laws will be written in our hearts (Jeremiah 33:31-33). What is the new covenant? The Holy Spirit is the new covenant. The Holy Spirit, through adoption, brings us into God’s family and that is why we call Him our father.
D’Amato’s relationship with Tyson is profound, yet it was merely external. Our relationship with the Holy Spirit is internal. He infuses in us the eternal life of God, making us capable of bearing fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These fruits surpass the requirements of the law because the Holy Spirit generates them.
We just celebrated Father’s Day. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to transform us into his children. To receive him, however, we must make having a relationship with him a priority in our lives. It does not take much. We should learn to talk to him and seek his counsel the way we talk to a good friend. Secondly, we must be disciplined enough to follow his counsel. Contrary to expectations, the Holy Spirit is gentle and does not force himself on us. We must not ignore him (Ephesians 4:20). And finally, we must have a passion for Jesus and his mission in the Church and in the world.
When was the last time I followed the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit?
“The Holy Spirit will not be resident in your life, if he cannot be president in your life”
— Late Archbishop Gabriel Ganaka