Romans 8: 14-25, 31-32
14 All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God. 15 You have not been given a spirit of bondage to bring you back into fear again, but you have received a Spirit that shows that you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit we cry, “Abba, Father. 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are children of God. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him in order to be also glorified with him.
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 All creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons and daughters of God. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice – it was the choice of the one who subjected it – but in the hope 21 that creation itself will be free from slavery until to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that all creation groans together and so far suffer from labor pains. 23 And it’s not just creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first harvest of the harvest, we also moan inwardly while waiting to be adopted and our bodies to be released. 24 We have been saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, it is not hope. Who expects what they are already seeing? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it patiently.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for all of us. Will he not also freely give us all things with him?
The apostle Paul tirelessly preached Jesus, even as the Roman Empire (and many Hebrew religious leaders) fought him, sometimes imprisoned him, and ultimately executed him. Paul’s enemies often looked incredibly strong. The great apostle felt human emotions, but refused to let fear rule his life or determine what he would do. It wasn’t just a human resolution. In his letter to the Christians in Rome, he clearly states his main conviction: “If God is for us, who is against us?
- Paul, trained as a rabbi (cf. Acts 22: 3), drew heavily on his knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures. He said the Holy Spirit teaches us to call God abba, the Aramaic word that infants often used with their fathers (probably taken from Psalm 68: 5-6, and which Jesus used – cf. Mark 14:36). Did you have a warm and trusting bond with your father, or was your experience of a human father more hurtful and filled with fear? How does the invitation to relate to God as abba speak to your heart?
- Paul also contrasted a fearful spirit of bondage with the image God adopts of us as God’s own children, fully included in God’s loving family. What role, if any, has fear played in your spiritual life? Have you ever had times when you desperately sought to please God by “trying harder”? How can it change the way you serve God this year to let Paul’s words soak up deep in your mind: “If God is for us, who is against us?
Dear God, teach me to trust your unwavering love more completely. In my relationships with others and with you, guide me to live without fear because I know that you are “for” me. Amen.