Friday 17 June 2022

Bible Book:

It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs: heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if we in fact suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (vs 16-17)

Romans 8:12-17 Friday 17 June 2022

Psalm 147


Today’s reading comes from the heart of St Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, within which he describes the possibility of living a new life in Christ. He urges his readers to cease, "living in the flesh", and instead be "led by the Spirit of God" (v.14). To enhance this dramatic change of life, he develops the idea of being a child of God that is now adopted into a new relationship.

Adoption in the Roman world was a significant process: the adopted person forfeited all rights in their old family and gained all privileges in their new. In effect, the child gained new legal parents and started a new network of relationships. In a similar way, St Paul writes that those that choose to follow Christ must leave the ways of the flesh and decide to live in the new, trusting relationship with God, ‘Abba’, or ‘Father’ (v.15).

The Roman ceremony of adoption was a serious occasion, and took place in front of seven witnesses who would testify to the new and binding legal relationship. They would also support the child and step forward in times of need. So, St Paul asserts, it is the same in spiritual life. When a believer cries out, ‘Abba’ , the Spirit of God then witnesses that the individual is now adopted, and they become an heir of God and joint heirs with Christ.

Then St Paul drops a challenging phrase into his letter: "if we in fact suffer with him" (17). These words immediately challenge notions of privilege and prevent Christians resting on their laurels. To be a joint heir of Christ is to remember Jesus’ words of picking up your cross and following him, and of serving rather than being served. Receiving this gift of adoption may be a free gift of grace, but it is also a challenge to live not for oneself, but for others.


To Ponder:

  • Do you find the illustration of adoption useful to describe your relationship with God?
  •  In your hymn book try reading some of the hymns in the section entitled Holy Spirit. One of my favourites is Brian Wren's hymn, Baptise us with your Spirit.
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