I have no idea if I've mentioned this previously, but after a recent discussion with my pastor about feeling that my ministry was disconnected from the "official" church process, he offered to add me to the church staff. It's not a paid position, but it is access; and more importantly, validation. Yesterday, I received an "official" staff name badge. I think I may have giggled. Weeeeee ... I'm legit.
"Going legit" usually refers to someone who, having lived dishonestly in the past, has decided to earn their keep in a more socially acceptable manner. It involves a decision not uncommon to becoming a Christian -- disowning the old self and embracing the new one.
When we become "legit" in God's eyes, it's because of the work his Spirit is doing in us. Paul tells us: "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." (Galatians 4:6-7)
You know, in the real world, the heir is really not required to do anything in order to "earn" his or her inheritance (unless the Father is a jerk.) For our Daddy God to redeem us out of slavery and into the position of one of his children, an heir no less, is unfathomable.
I don't have a human experience to "match" this, so I will look to the animal kingdom. I have owned 2 stray dogs in my life. One was Ralph, a pit bull terrier mix. The other is Ruby, a short hair collie mix who currently resides in our back yard. Stray dogs understand the incredible miracle of becoming legit; of being claimed. When I go outside, Ruby will run ahead of me, sit down in my path to block my way and gaze up intently at me as if to say, "I will take even the tiniest morsel of attention and receive it like a banquet." I usually give her a good rub down in these moments and talk "sweet talk" to her nose to nose. The thump of her tail against the deck resonates throughout the back yard. I can hear her saying, "Legit, legit, legit, thank you Lord."
I believe this is the feeling conveyed in Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son. After dishonoring his father by taking his inheritance early (in essence saying, you're as good as dead to me) and then spending himself into a state of destitute, the Son returns. He has a fabulous plan all cooked up in his mind. He will offer to be his Father's slave. I imagine him rehearsing his speech all the way home. Yet his Father will have none of it. After a great show of affection by running to meet him and throwing his arms around him, the Father restores his son to the place of "heir" by having his servants immediately bring him a robe, sandals and signet ring. I wish Jesus would have expanded more on the son's reaction. But perhaps as we imagine it, we can better see ourselves as that son who comes to his senses and comes home.
I don't have to earn my place in God's heart as his precious daughter. But I do owe something to honoring that image God has of me.