In preparation for Sunday's sermon, I read from the discussion of baptism in Galatians 3. One of the most important verses in that discussion is v. 26: in Christ Jesus you are all children of God. This is surely very profound stuff; I want to focus on the reality that we are children of God from the perspective of the doctrine of creation.
Christians believe that God created the world and intended that it be inhabited by human persons such as ourselves. He made the world good, he made us to live in the world, and though things are a bit messed up at the moment, we know that God is going to fix things and make them like new. When we think to ourselves, then, that we are sons and daughters of the Creator God, what could this mean except that we feel at home in the world? By this I don't mean that the world as we know it now is more or less fine to us, familiar and hospitable. I mean that we love life and are happy to know that we are alive, that we exist.
God is behind the universe and sustains it in every passing moment. We too are sustained in existence by God's great power, and we wouldn't exist even for a second if he did not continue in this activity of existential maintenance. When we think, therefore, that the one behind the scenes (so to speak) is Our Father, to whom we can pray and bring all of our complaints and requests and petitions freely, and he happily hears us and only ever does good to us, we cannot help but be happy to be alive. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons why Christianity has from the beginning been characterized as a religion of joy and happiness: because it makes one glad to be alive!
Think about it: the one who controls your very destiny is your Father who loves you and wants only what is good for you in everything. Who can despair of life when this is the way things stand? Who wouldn't be an optimist if they were impressed with conviction that the God of the whole universe is his Father who cares for him?
Christianity teaches people to feel at home in the world, by which I mean to feel at home in existence. Some philosophies and religions despair of existence. The Buddhists, for instance, consider life to be an apparently endless cycle of suffering and dissatisfaction; the only way out is to cut out all desire whatsoever, and the key to doing that is to realize that the self does not exist. Peace and quiet means extinction and self-annihilation through philosophical discovery. Not a very bright and happy view of things! But Christianity has a different diagnosis and a different treatment to the same problem: human beings are victims of this oppressing force called Sin, and the treatment for Sin is found in union with the Son of God who assumed a human nature fallen such as ours, redeemed it and sanctified and deified and transformed it, and now offers himself to all who wish to be healed. The answer is not to be annihilated; the answer is to be united with the Son of God and truly to begin to live thereafter.
Life is good, the world is good, and our situation is a good one insofar as God the good and loving creator is Our Father. When we have God as a Father, we can know that our end will be a good one, and though the road there may be a difficult one, we are glad for the opportunity to be on the journey.