Have you ever considered the indicatives of 1 John 3:1-3. My wife painted these verses on the wall above the crib where our children slept when they were infants. When I saw them in the crib with that verse above them, it served as a visual reminder to me that we are children of the living God and that God delights to make us his children. That little helpless person in the crib? That one who is so tender and dear to me? The one I love with all my heart? That is me before the Father in the love of Christ. Can I remember that even as my heart is constantly making idols looking for other fathers, other delights, out of professors, school work, ministries, services, and similar temptations?
I had to stop for awhile after reading the story by Sinclair Ferguson in his book Children of the Living God about coming out of a job interview where he was asked, “How would you describe your relationship with God?” He answered that he was a servant, but also a son! He walked out at the end of the interview realizing afresh that he is a child of the Father. He went on to quote again from 1 John 3:1-3 and then to explain how the indicative empowers the imperative. Ferguson asserts it this way, “I am one of his children (I know my real identity); his people are my brothers and sisters (I recognise the family to which I belong, and have discovered my deepest roots).”
The indicative of our sonship will empower the imperative of our joyful obedience to Christ. To reverse this is to sink ourselves under the weight of works righteousness, the erroneous idea that we somehow merit sonship by what we do instead of by the love of God in Christ. Whatever we are going to experience as Christians, it is going to begin and be founded on our sonship to our Father. Our sonship is the easiest thing to forget and the most important thing that the devil would have us forget as he is seeking to steal, kill, and destroy our joy in Christ.