Today’s Reading: Romans 8:14-18
I love Paul’s letter to the Romans. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible because it explains our relationship with God. The Jews felt like they had a special relationship with God simply because they were of Jewish decent, because they were descendants of Abraham and were circumcised according to religious tradition. Paul takes this entire letter to help both Jews and Gentiles understand that we are not made right with God because of our genetic heritage but that GOD Himself MAKES US RIGHT IN HIS SIGHT when we have faith in Him.
Paul uses many different terms and analogies to help us understand what it means to be in a relationship with God. He started out his letter by telling the Christians in Rome that they are loved by God and called to be His own holy people (1:7). He uses the illustration of an employee who pays his workers because they have earned their wages. This does NOT describe our relationship with God. We are counted as righteous not because of our work but because of our faith (4:4-5).
Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God that comes by faith…So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. – Romans 4:13, 16
I AM A FRIEND OF GOD.
Our relationship is not an employee/employer relationship, it is more of a friendship where we are truly loved by God and, out of this love for us, He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to do a work in our hearts (5:5,10).
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us FRIENDS OF GOD. – Romans 5:11
Paul goes on to describe our friendship or relationship with God as a Master / Slave relationship.
Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living…Now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. – Romans 6:18,22a
I AM A SLAVE OF GOD.
Confession time: I’ve always been a little uncomfortable with the term “slave of God.” I find myself bothered by this description of our relationship with God. I stop and ask God to reveal any issues in my heart that cause me such discomfort with the idea of being God’s slave. I love the terms of submission and the idea of being God’s servant, follower, disciples…but not slave. I am bothered by the term “slavery” because it has negative connotations and it does not describe the relationship I experience with Christ. If we don’t go on to read more of what Paul teaches, Christianity sounds like we are trading one kind of slavery for another kind, when in fact we find freedom.
When we get to chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we see that he must have understood the disconnect with the term because he goes on to explain himself. He has just taken all of chapter 7 to explain what it means to be a slave to our sinful nature. He cries out, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25a).
When we accept what Christ did for us on the cross and give our whole life over to Him, He gives us the gift of the Spirit. This life-giving Spirit has freed us from the power of sin that leads to death. We no longer need to give in to its urging (8:2,12). Instead, we give control over to the Spirit living within us.
But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. – Romans 8:6
Life and peace – that describes my experience of Christ so much more than the word slavery. When I allow the Spirit to lead me, I find I am more than a slave, I am a child of God (8:14). I don’t live in fear but in relationship.
I AM A CHILD OF GOD.
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we share in his glory we must also share in his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is NOTHING compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. – Romans 8:15-18
When I give my life to God in full submission and hand over control to the Spirit, I experience freedom. When I listen to the urgings of the Spirit instead of the urging of the sinful nature, I experience life and peace. I am his child and I call him, “Abba, Father.” I am His heir! His heir! Having done nothing to deserve this kind of love and grace, I am the recipient of all He has to give me – which includes his glory as I share in His suffering.
Lord, help me to stay in this reality all day long. When the enemy tries to defeat, let me say, “I am God’s child!” When the struggles of this world overcome, let me say, “I share in His suffering so that I may share in His glory!”
Thank you, God, for the privilege of serving you – of being your slave. In that moment of submission, I experience life, peace and freedom as your child, and I experience your unfailing love and constant companionship as my friend.