Reflection for Sunday, July19, 2020, OS16
Epistle Passage: Romans 8.12-25
Last week we read about the Holy Spirit as our moral guide. Today’s reading carries the teaching forward. We are debtors in the sense that we have an obligation to live by the Spirit. This spiritual life involves adoption into the family of God. Paul expresses this and its implications by quoting the family name for the father – ‘We have received a spirit of sonship by which we cry Abba, Father’. This title was originally an Aramaic term of endearment which was taken over in early Christianity into more solemn liturgical use. Abba becomes a respectful title which expresses the obedience owed to God the Father. As adopted children of God we need to question ourselves in regard to our behaviour and attitudes. Is this word or action or attitude pleasing to God? Pleasing God then becomes a touchstone for Christian ethics and a test to be applied in our moral decision making.
We need to fill our mind with thoughts that are consistent with the gospel and motivated by the presence of the Holy Spirit. At Philippians 4.8 Paul suggests this in more detail - ‘so many things as are true, so many things as are honourable, so many things as are righteous, so many things as are pure, so many things as are pleasing, so many things as are of good report…’ – Paul continues thoughtfully (Romans 8.18) ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed to us…’ The ‘I reckon’ indicates a firm conviction reached by rational thought on the basis of the gospel. The gospel is intellectually satisfying and will stand up to rigid inquiry.
Paul then writes one of the great passages of the Bible; he uses poetic imagery to express the futility of decay. The whole creation awaits the revealing of God’s glory and believers are promised a share in this glory. We live in hope during this earthly life. The whole creation groans together with us. We have the first-fruits of the Spirit but our adoption into God’s family is still incomplete. We live in hope until the creation, including ourselves, reaches its full potential.
Be prepared to read the whole of Romans 8; appreciate the language; try and follow the thought, especially the teaching about hope; check out your mindset; rejoice in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Reverend Dr Calum Gilmour