Wednesday 14 June 2017

Bible Book:

“When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (vv. 15b-16)

Romans 8:12-17 Wednesday 14 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 73


ABBA is not just a Swedish pop group. It's an intimate Aramaicword for father. It's a word Jesus himself used to speak to hisFather in heaven (Mark 14:36). Most people didn't dare to talkabout God with such familiarity. As a father myself, I know thatthere's nothing quite like that moment when your children start tocall you 'daddy'!

The Letter to the Romans is Paul's masterpiece. I'm not going totry giving the full background and context! But this short passagecomes at the high point, which gives us a wonderful view over theglorious landscape of the benefits we find as Christ's people. Paulhas just been wrestling with the problems of sin in the presentage, and chapter 8 contrasts this with the life of the Holy Spiritfor those who are 'in Christ'.

'Putting to death the deeds of the body' is a strange phrasewhich perhaps needs some thought. The physical world and the humanbody are not seen as bad things - rather, all of God's creation isa gift to be celebrated and one that will be renewed in the NewCreation. This pattern is seen in the resurrection of Jesus, whoreturned with a renewed physical body - the first sign of the newcreation to come. So when Paul writes of the deeds of the body,he's speaking in reference to chapter 7, where 'the flesh' seems to have amind of its own. Our human lives are conflicted by the influencesof things we have wrongly worshipped and idolised: thus, habits,selfish mindsets and addictions are very powerful. Paul is invitingus to bring those things under the Lordship of Jesus, who is evenmore powerful. He seems to be saying: "Don't let the unhelpful waysof this world lead you down a dead end. You were created for morethan that. With Christ as Lord, don't be slaves to these things anylonger. Recapture the image of God in you, and live for himinstead!"

But the ways of God are even better than simply exchanging oneform of slavery for another. Yes, we may be called servants of God,but God doesn't keep us against our will. Rather, he is constantlyinviting us into a more wonderful relationship: Led by the Spiritand under the Lordship of Christ the King, we are given the gift ofadoption into the family of God. Of this, Paul is emphaticallysure. Strange though it seems, God the Trinity, bestows on us thestatus of his sons and daughters. He has signed the adoptionpapers, and we are truly God's children, even heirs of the kingdomwith our brother Jesus. The Spirit confirms in us that intimaterelationship with God the Father, and we might even call him'Daddy'.

Once again, this Trinitarian passage gives us the sense of beingdrawn into God's purposes. There is room in God's eternalrelationship for us! But please note: this is not all rapture andjoy. At the present time, God suffers. God suffers because theworld he loves is not yet completely healed or redeemed. When weare drawn into this relationship, there are great blessings, but wecannot ignore the suffering God, and so we must be prepared tosuffer with him for the world, until that glorious completion.

To Ponder

  • Do you think of yourself as a child of God? What does thisrelationship mean to you?
  • All of Paul's writing was in the context of a period of greatsuffering and persecution for the churches. When we accept Christ,do we expect things to be easy, or are we realistic about thesuffering that can come?
  • If human life always involves times of suffering, what are thebenefits of suffering 'in Christ' (or with him), as opposed tosuffering without him?
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