“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”
– Romans 8:16-17
One of the most astounding things about our relationship with Christ is the ability that He affords us to share in His identity in the Kingdom. It’s the greatest and most unselfish application of the age-old practice of nepotism there has ever been: that, as children of God, we join with Christ in His inheritance.
Through no act of our own, and certainly not through our performance as believers, we are accorded the same favor as Jesus Christ. It’s vitally important for our development in the Spirit (and to avoid the problem of an over-inflated ego) that we accept and rejoice in the fact that we’ve done nothing to deserve God’s favor. We don’t earn brownie points through our thoughts or our deeds – our position in the heart of Christ affords us the same favor as God affords His Son.
Favor is considered the special preference of one to another – an advantage given from a greater to a lesser, as a king might give favor to a trusted advisor, or a father to a son. It’s an intentional bias that, within the context of the world, is defined more by those it excludes than by those it includes: favor isn’t seen as a positive thing for the favored, but rather a negative thing for those not so privileged.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, the Father has proffered favor to His Son. Rather than reserve that privileged relationship for Jesus, however, he’s expanded the reach of that blessing to everyone in Christ: made us heirs along with Him.
Favor provides the confidence we need to be who we need to be in Christ: we’re able to step out of need, and into provision with absolute assurance that God will provide what we need. Favor is proof positive of God’s heart towards us, of God’s love, compassion and approval for us. It’s the most powerful place of fellowship with the Father, and it in turn empowers us to become bigger, better, more capable in the Spirit.
In favor, we’re more sensitive and perceptive. We see things that others don’t, and are alive to undercurrents that would pass us by ordinarily. We’re active in faith, resolute and strong, because we see that God is absolutely, completely and utterly behind us in everything we do. God’s extravagance is extraordinary; His generosity knows no boundaries. He encourages us to try to test that vast expanse of blessing He has for us, and when we ask for more, He gives us more, and then more on top of that.
The Kingdom of Heaven is our inheritance, our own version of the promised land, and just as Israel was promised Canaan, we are gifted our own end to struggle and attrition, provided we are capable of asking for it. God will give us houses we didn’t build; vineyards we did not plant; offer us water from wells we never had to dig.
We must understand, first and foremost, that this is not some abstraction, but a real space that the Father opens up for us to inhabit. The place of favor that God has revealed to us is endless, never-ending, because everything in Christ is affirmative and positive. Everything here is yes, when for so long we’ve come to expect no from the world around us. That’s not how the Father, our Father, expects us to live anymore, and our own expectations must mirror that greatness.
The place of favor that we see before us is a challenge to us: a challenge to believe, a challenge to have strength, a challenge to live in the expectation of greatness. God challenges us to face everything in favor, to position ourselves before Him in every situation and in every circumstance. We are never without favor, and as we cultivate intimacy with the Father, we move further into that space, enriching our own spirits, becoming bolder, creating new experiences of favor as we go on.
A true disciple is never without favor, because a true disciple understands the cumulative, exponential effect of that favor – the call to greater depths of belonging in the Kingdom necessarily creates the capacity in us for those greater depths. It’s the gift that keeps on giving; the seed that sows itself. When we doubt the place of favor in our lives, that just means we’re ready to take the first step out into that place: we stand on the threshold, looking out onto the promised land. Every step we take after that first step becomes a stride, and every stride breaks into a trot, breaks into a run – a madcap pelt downhill, arms outstretched in the glory of God.