A summary of the sermon I gave at St. Mary's Orthodox Church, Houston, on 12/18/2011. Listen to the sermon here.
Luke traces the ancestry of Jesus back to the first human being on earth, Adam, and finally he says that Adam was the son of God. I believe that nowhere else in the Bible is Adam called so. In the Genesis story it says that human beings were created in the likeness of God. This might mean the same thing, for it is a child who receives a parent’s likeness. If Adam is a child of God, obviously all people on earth must be God’s children. Obviously every human being is born with God’s likeness, as God’s child.
If all people are God’s children, the world must be a family, and all people must be brothers and sisters to each other. Luke believed this. Jesus also believed this. That is why he taught us to address God as “Our father”.
However, we don’t see people on earth living together as a family. We don’t see people treating each other as brothers and sisters. Many of us Christians like to think that all Christians are God’s children but all the non-Christians are not. A lot of Muslims think that they are God’s children and non-Muslims are not. A lot of Hindus think so. Some people from every religion and religious group think in the same way.
There has been a different view in Christianity. By fourth century, Christianity spread all over the Roman Empire, which consisted of most of Europe, the northern Africa and the western-most part of Asia. Latin was more common in the western part of the empire, and Greek was more common in the eastern part. The Latin Christianity eventually evolved to become the Roman Catholic Church and protestant churches. The Greek Christianity eventually became the Orthodox churches. Augustine and Jerome were the primary fathers in the Latin west, but the Cappadocian fathers were the primary ones in the east.
According to the Latin fathers, human beings were originally God’s children, but they lost this position when they chose to disobey God. They probably based their theory on the story of Adam and Eve, according to which they were cast out of the Garden of Eden when they disobeyed God. The Greek fathers had a more sophisticated view. They agreed with the Latin fathers that human beings lost their position as children when they disobeyed. But from whose view? God’s view or man’s view? The Greek fathers argued that the change was not from God’s view but from man’s view. They based their theory on a beautiful story told by Jesus—of the prodigal son. When the younger son left his father, and lived eating the food of the pigs, he had lost his sonship. Even then he was a son to his father. Later when he realized that he had been viewed as a son by his father even when he had rejected his father, he returns to his father.
If Adam is like the son who leaves his father, Luke presents Jesus as the son who returns to the father. If the first Adam is disobedient, the new Adam is fully obedient.
Friends, this is what we have learned from our fathers. God loves all people impartially. All human beings on earth are viewed as children by God. However, all people on earth do not realize this. Those who realize this return to God claiming their sonship, but those who don’t realize this stay away from God, leading a miserable life.