Yet to all who did receive [Jesus], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)
He was only a boy, but he already knew about shame and humiliation. He did his best to stay away from people and crowded places. He was the illegitimate son of a woman in eastern Tennessee in the 1800s. His name was Ben Hooper.
Ben Hooper always dreaded the questions people asked. “Boy, who’s your father?” or “Whose boy are you?” It didn’t matter if it was just a stranger or someone he knew ready to humiliate him. It always brought a stab of pain to his heart to be reminded that he didn’t have a dad.
Then a new preacher came to pastor the church in Ben’s hometown. Ben attended church on the Sunday that the new preacher was going to speak. This preacher taught about how “Abba” is the Hebrew word for father and that God is Abba to His people. Ben was amazed at what he was hearing and became so absorbed in the sermon that he forgot to sneak out of church early. As it was, Ben got stuck in the after-church crowd pouring out of the building.
The new preacher stood next to the door saying goodbye to each person as they left. When Ben shuffled by, the pastor said, “Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?”
Ben’s heart sank at the dreaded question but the preacher suddenly added, “Wait a minute. I know who you are. The family resemblance is unmistakable. You’re a child of God!” He patted Ben on the back. “That’s quite an inheritance, son. Go and claim it!”
Ben Hooper went on to serve two terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives and also be elected and reelected state governor.
We humans all used to be like illegitimate children. But when Jesus Christ came to give his life for us, He claimed us as God’s own. Now that we are children of God, we share in God’s inheritance for His people, His children. Sometimes we forget we’re God’s children and let ourselves believe Satan’s lie that we’re not important. But for those of us who are saved by Jesus’ blood, everyone is part of God’s family.
As the pastor in Ben’s church said, “That’s quite an inheritance. Go and claim it!”