July 26 2020 Ordinary 17

Reflection for Sunday, July 26, 2020, OS17

Epistle Passage: Romans 8.26-39

This reflection brings us to the end of Romans chapter 8, and Paul’s teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit. In this passage Paul concentrates on two parts of the Spirit’s work.

First, the Spirit assists our prayers. It is not always clear what we should pray. God sees the big picture; we see only a small part of God’s plan. We need guidance as we pray. Silence is an important part of our prayer as we lift our minds and hearts to God in openness to His Spirit. It can sometimes be helpful to let our thoughts wander and let the Holy Spirit take those wandering thoughts; God can and does communicate with us by guiding our thoughts. Prayer is a two-way process as we listen in silence and also speak to God about our concerns.

Second, there is the wonderful assertion that ‘all things work together for good for those who love God’. But how do we love God? Loving God is nothing less than the obedient response of one’s whole being. We love God with our whole heart and mind and soul and strength (Matthew 22.34ff). This expresses our belief in the sovereignty of God. We are all in God’s hands and God can bring good out of our sinful lives. We put ourselves in God’s hands and in faith believe that He can bring good out of evil. This is the right response for Christians to make to the current epidemic.

It is worthwhile to sum up the main features of the work of the Holy Spirit as we find them in Romans 8. The chapter does not deal with specific ethical issues that the Christian might face in daily life. Like most of the New Testament teaching on ethics we are given broad, general principles: live in the Spirit; set the mind on things of the Spirit; act in a way that is pleasing to God; allow the Spirit to nurture in us a sense of sonship which involves obedience; treat the environment as involved in the cosmic plan of salvation; live in hope of sharing the fullness of glory. As we live our everyday lives in the world we are faced with specific ethical issues that involve our behaviour or our reaction to the behaviour of others. The Spirit will guide us to patterns that please God.

Reverend Dr. Calum Gilmour

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