Romans 8 is central in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul traveled the Roman Empire by foot, sharing his story and the message of the Gospel, the good news of a way to be right with God, the supreme God and creator who revealed himself through incarnation in Jesus Christ. Groups of believers sprung up but Paul was often railroaded out of town leaving the small groups in towns, often impacted by false teachers, and with no written Word to refer to. Plus Paul was imprisoned. Had he lived today, I would imagine he would have been an expert using email, following up on his peeps. Those early letters form a core part of the New Testament after the Gospels that tell the story of the life of Christ. The letters talk more about the Christian lifestyle. Christianity is not just a statement of what is believed to be true like the pledge of allegiance but it is also a whole lifestyle. This week we will look at five letters to five churches in big cities of the empire and Paul’s advice to those young believers. We start with Rome and Romans 8.
In the 90s, we stood before the high court of Kenya and the judge, with a policeman on each side, pounded the gavel down and declared, “From this day forward, this child will be known as …..” In that moment life changed for two young children who were adopted into our family and for us. Adoption is a big word to us. My husband was adopted and our five children now have two more siblings. The adventure started. Likewise at baptism or at the point of conversion we are adopted into a spiritual family. We still live in this world but we also belong to another world, another reality. We become a child of God. As a child learns to obey parents and care for siblings, becoming part of a family, even so we learn to obey the Holy Spirit and we learn what it means to be part of the family of faith. “The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. (v 15)” We are not slaves living in fear but children claimed by God. The chapter ends assuring us that nothing can separate us from the love of that Father.
Adoption is a difficult relationship to navigate. We bring our “past” with us and often the doubts that we are truly wanted or loveable. We grow into an adoption. The chapter closes with that fantastic assurance of God’s continual love and presence but most of us probably do not have to put our lives on the line for our faith like those early Christians. Some of us are fairly skeptical of a statements like that but the truth is that God is committed to us and we can count on that. The epic hero is committed to making the epic story turn out best for all. THAT is epic hope! Blessings.