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Do You Really Want to Be a Child of God?

Posted October 28, 2017

Man and child hands

Do you think of yourself as a child of God?

Whether to employ the phrase “child of God” has come up for discussion lately in my circles. (Granted, I hang out with writers, editors and ministers who love to obsess about stuff like this.)

Most of the people I hear using the term “child of God” find it comforting and reassuring. It means they're going to be taken care of, and it reflects a permanent relationship with God.

But often it signals they're waiting for divine rescue. They're throwing up their hands and saying, “Hey, I'm just the kid here. Someone bigger and stronger will have to fix this for me.”

Worse, for the general public I fear “child of God” isn't much better than “worm of the dust.” It's diminutive; it means “I'm small and God is big.” It means, “I'll never measure up.” or “I'll always need help.” It keeps us approaching God as dependent children although, even with our human parents, the relationship ideally changes to one of adults, peers, even friends.

That's why I usually argue against using the term “child of God.”


I frankly wish Jesus hadn't described the human relationship with God as being like a father and child, but it was radically progressive for his day. It shifted his followers' first-century understanding of God from an unpredictable, often angry ruler on a throne to a figure of love and understanding.

In those days, fathers were completely in charge of the family or tribe. Your sustenance and your future depended on your dad. A loving father would provide for all your needs, support and encourage you, and make sure you inherited any wealth he had. (Well, sons inherited while daughters were married off.) The right father could set you up for life.

Describing God in this way fit one of Jesus's key teachings: Don't worry, be happy. He insisted we have nothing to fear, and he reached for metaphors to persuade his students that we live in an ocean of divine love and well-being. That we are equipped with everything we need. That we're already in the kingdom of heaven.

All true, but I believe “child of God” doesn't serve us well now. The role of fathers has shifted in many ways, and a significant number of people wince when they hear the term “Father” to describe God. Those who had distant or abusive fathers want nothing to do with such a God. Some women hear “Father” and feel half the human race is being excluded from the divine family because God is male.

Yes, we can say “Father-Mother God,” but many of us no longer want any gender identifier for God. We prefer terms like Infinite or Source or at the very least Spirit.


The people I know who have come to terms with this issue are those for whom “child of God” means a full-blown expression of one's divinity.

When they say “child of God” they're talking about their oneness with All That Is. They will be provided for, not because a supreme being has taken a shine to them but because they live in a universe of abundance. They are an expression of that divine energy, part of the One.

If you're familiar with Myrtle Fillmore, who founded the Unity spiritual movement in 1889 with her husband Charles, you know she began to heal from lifelong ailments by affirming, “I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness.”

She wasn't asking a Daddy God to heal her. She was claiming her own divine power and acknowledging her responsibility to create her life experience.

Spiritual maturity is taking charge of the life you're creating. It is understanding your spiritual nature and beginning to use the powers inherent in you, even if you fumble at first.

Of course there will be days when you wish you could be rescued. That's when the divine energy expressing through others can comfort and guide you. Other people are God with skin on.

But you already are equipped with the attributes you need to navigate this human journey. Every event or circumstance is an opportunity to grow into greater awareness, to identify more consciously with your God-essence.


This advanced phase of spiritual work is not to rely on a power greater than yourself as much as to become a greater power yourself.

An acorn is intended to grow into a tree. A helpless baby is intended to grow into a self-sufficient adult.

You came from God and will always be a part of God, but that doesn't make you perpetually a child. It makes you the substance of all that God is, intended to claim your divine identity so you can express all the strength, wisdom and abundance that are naturally a part of you.

You might still want to call yourself a “child of God.” Just be clear about what you mean.


©2013 Ellen Debenport
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