So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ 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, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
We all feel we want to belong, at some time or another. Here Paul brings us the ultimate assurance that we do belong to a family, the family of God. It is a new identity which brings us together with all believers and does not depend on who we are but who God is.
Having called us in Jesus and given us the Spirit, God accepts us all into a new family. Sometimes this might cause us problems because of our own negative experiences of living in families who have rejected who we are.
God, though, is different. God has adopted us and welcomed us into God’s family, just as we are. The Spirit speaks within us as we call out to God. Jesus walks beside us, saying indeed come to me as you are; and you are part of something entirely brought together by Love.
Some years ago, a family with two adopted children joined the church where I was a member. The children said how much it meant to them to know that they were adopted into God’s family. It really meant a lot to them. I began to appreciate this through their excitement. These words took on a new meaning for me.
Paul goes further, saying that if we are children, we are also heirs. What might we inherit as heirs of God? Paul’s answer is both the suffering and the glorification which belonged to Christ. We suffer as we try to live according to the Spirit living within us, rejecting those behaviours and emotions which Christ also rejected and choosing instead the life God holds out to us. So our inheritance as members of this family is Jesus’ own, shared with us, the suffering but also the glory; to be at home with God, always.
Loving God, you have adopted us and brought us into your family. We call out to you, Loving Parent, brother Jesus, Companion Spirit. Keep us always close to You. We belong to You. Thank you for your gift of family and an eternal home, where we belong. Amen
The Rev’d Rev Helen Everard, NSM Fleet URC, Hampshire