Suffering and hope. Life and peace through the Spirit. Calling out Abba Father. No condemnation. Romans 8 is full of goodness.
I was 15 when Romans 8 first captured and broke my hardened heart. It is now 10 years later, and the Lord is still using that chapter to call me home to Him.
I’m thankful for Anna in my church. She is studying Romans with me every other Monday evening. Her hospitality, kindness, and warmth have gone beyond what I could have hoped for or expected in a discipleship group.
Last night, we studied Romans 8 together after studying it individually in the two weeks leading up to meeting. And, wow. Romans 8 is so jam-packed.
When I first studied Romans 8 with my church youth group at age 15, the emphasis was on our adoption to sonship.
Romans 8:14-16 speaks to that reality: “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. “
Abba Father. My good friend told me yesterday about her experience talking to Abba. That is the word she used. Not Lord, not God, but Abba.
And I want to talk to God like he is love and he is Father and he is near. When my pastor asked during a sermon what comes to our mind when we think of God, the first words that came to my mind were holy, righteous, and good. And God is all of those things, hallelujah! But he is also so much more, and I want to know more deeply God as Abba. How else can I become the child I am meant to be?
There is so much misunderstanding in the church. There is so much left unsaid that needs to be said and so much said that should never be spoken. But friends, we are not alone in the fight. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. We have the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead living inside of us if we are God’s chosen children and elect.
Suffering is part of the journey; Romans 8 makes that clear, too. Right after Paul describes our status as children, he goes on to say, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Suffering and hope. All of creation groaning with the pains of childbirth. My friend, Anna, pointed out the hope and expectation in the pains of childbirth compared to other types of pain we can experience on earth. Scripture uses the pains of childbirth as a picture of Christian suffering. The suffering is real and intense, but the hope of new life is there.
The pain can feel so unyielding, though. I feel the difficulty of my auto immune dysfunction every day. Does that mean that I am without the same hope? No. If my suffering is no longer my own to hold, I am set free from bearing the depth of its burden and weight. My Abba is holding me fast and is helping me learn to be his child. A child who knows this body is dying, but that I am alive through his Spirit living in me.
I can cry Abba Father in the midst of pain. I can see him more and be more aware of his presence with me. He is teaching me and pursuing me; he is after my heart. Without the suffering, there would be no sharing in his glory.
The first verse in Romans 8 is a line of one of the most familiar hymns in Christian tradition. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What the law couldn’t do, the Spirit has! Life in the flesh is death. Life with the Spirit is life and peace. Don’t we want that? Life and peace.
There is so much wisdom and truth and goodness in Romans 8. If anything, I hope this post inspires you to pick up your Bible and read it. And read it, and read it again. Abba is waiting for you to become the child you were meant to be.