The story of the bible is a relational story.
It reveals the relational character of God to us - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - as well as His relationship with the world that He has made. In God Himself there is relationship, and that overflows to the dynamic at work in the very fabric of our reality, the importance of relationships at every level, the need of ‘others’, of community, and especially of that central relationship on which all others hang, the great call between Creator and creation, and deep to deep.
In the bible God also reveals Himself not just as a very loving being, but as love itself (1 John 4); He says that all the law and the prophets hang on love (Matthew 22:40), they are all from and to love; then He demonstrates the extent of His love as Jesus dies for us (Romans 5).
The sharper truth here is that the bible is a love story.
But not in the Hollywood romance sense. It does not have the tired structure of teenage infatuation sprinkled with high school tableaus cohering to a plastic pop-music soundtrack. But this love story spans the gritty depths of all that that word encapsulates. It shows love for what it is, the definition to which we hold all other claims of love.
And one of the most beautiful pictures we are given of this love is that God has adopted us into His family. Which is not at odds with the transfer of legal status in justification, or the positional healing of reconciliation, but it exemplifies them relationally, in the radical truth of our adoption.
That God, in the gospel brings us into His family, in the most intimate sense of that word; that He comes to earth bearing an invitation to become children of God (John 1); transferred from slaves to sons (Romans 8); and Jesus “for whom and through whom all things exist” is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2).
Which brings a certain apex to this love story, and flows out in all sorts of wonderful ways.
Firstly, it cuts right across any religious points scoring with God, because He is our Father, and we can't become any ‘more’ His children. So we don’t have days when we are more Christian or less Christians, because we are His sons and daughters; that is just our reality now.
It means that we walk through our days and life with the solid confidence of an entirely new identity, brought into the heart of God’s relationships. We are able to speak to Him at any moment as Father, as Dad. We can bring Him our joys and confusions and complaints and know that He hears and cares and is doing what’s best for us.
It also means that the work of Jesus for us does not just sneak us in the back door to some banquet, but that along with Jesus we have been made heirs of a heavenly inheritance. Entering heaven is now like walking into the family home. In a way that seems sort of bigger than is possible, and almost too significant to say out loud, our relationship to God as Father is the same as Jesus’ relationship with the Father. We are Jesus’ siblings, members of the one family, and together we are waiting for our brother to return.
So while we wait we love each other as family, and we tell each other the love story of God our Father who has made us brothers and sisters, heirs of a Heavenly Home, where soon we will be with Him forever.