Welcome to stop number 25 of the Lenten Blog Tour. This tour, organized by the publishers of the new Common English Bible, involves 41 different blog reflections from Ash Wednesday to Easter Monday. Be sure to leave a comment below. The publishers are giving away a copy of the CEB New Testament to one commenter (chosen randomly).
Today’s reading is Romans 8.12-17 …
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if you put to death the actions of the body with the Spirit, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
Throughout life, we are engaged in a constant battle between living for God and living for ourselves. When we live for ourselves, we are confused about who we are; we’re confused about our identity as God’s children. Paul says “we have an obligation.” We have an obligation to be true to our identity as children of God!
The Apostle Paul celebrates the fact that we are God’s children, that we are part of God’s family. Paul addresses readers as “brothers and sisters” and “God’s sons and daughters.” Paul argues that we have been “adopted as his children,” and that with God’s Spirit, “we cry, Abba, Father.” We are part of God’s family.
Often, though, we “live our lives on the basis of selfishness,” a way that leads to death. We live as if we’ve received a “spirit of slavery” that leads us “back again into fear.” But Paul reminds us that we have received God’s Spirit and that we are his children.
We have an obligation to be true to our identity as children of God!
Part of the obligation is that we continually “put to death the actions of the body with the Spirit.” We must be rigorous and intentional. We must guard against living selfishly. Paul warns, “If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die.”
To live as a child of God, we must be intentional about cultivating intimacy in our relationship with God by practicing what John Wesley called “means of grace.” Means of grace are simply ways in which God chooses to work in us (i.e., prayer, reading the Scriptures, Holy Communion, etc.). As we engage in these practices, God forms us and strengthens our identity in Christ.
There’s a great promise for those who live true to their identity as children of God. Paul contends, “We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ.”
But it’s not always easy. Jesus warned his followers …
34 … All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. (Mark 8.34-35, CEB)
Living as followers of Jesus involves hardship. Paul says we are heirs “if we really suffer with him.” Suffering is part of the journey; it goes with the territory. But, the good news is, “we can also be glorified with him.”
Know who you are. Know whose you are. Be true to your identity as a child of God. Stay close to God. Watch out for the distractions. Guard your heart. Focus on God, not self. We have an obligation to be true to our identity as children of God!