I’d like us to think about three things from today’s reading: the glory we are promised, life in the present and the hope we have.
Firstly then, the Spirit we have received has not made us slaves, lowly workers in God’s kingdom, but rather we are adopted. We’re welcomed into God’s family, as children and co-heirs alongside Jesus. I wonder if you’ve spent much time dwelling on your status as a co-heir of God along with Christ? Paul tells us that he considers ‘the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us’. I don’t know what particular sufferings you have in your life; I find it hard to conceive of a glory so great that the sufferings in my life and in the world as a whole can’t be compared to it, but that is what we have been promised! And while we long for this glorious future, we aren’t alone, for ‘creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God’, for that day when we are reckoned as children of the King and receive our inheritance of glory – even creation will be set free.
This glorious future inheritance does have strings attached though. There’s an expectation upon us as members of God’s family to behave fittingly; if we are led by the Spirit, and put to death the deeds of the body, we will live. By following the guidance of the Spirit we have received, and who lives within us, we’re not only living in a pleasing way to God, but we are being changed in the present. Inheritance is a familiar concept to us today, as it was for the Romans thousands of years ago; upon the death of a family member or close friend, you may be left a portion of their property, as set out in their will. This isn’t the only inheritance we receive, though, as we also inherit our appearance, aspects of our character and behaviour from others, particularly our parents. I can see this in my own life in many ways, for example, I can see that I have inherited a huge part of my character, interests and use of time straight from my Dad (for better or worse, some might ask!).
Similarly, because we are adopted into God’s family, we start to inherit God’s character, priorities and perspective, as we are led by the Holy Spirit. You may have had a self-aware realisation at some point in your life that you’re turning into one of your parents – let’s strive towards being able to look back and see how our lives have been shaped towards Christ’s likeness. This isn’t to say that if we are led by the Spirit that everything will be rosy; as Paul says, we suffer with Christ in this present time that we may also be glorified with him, but the Spirit of adoption we have received means that we do not have to fall back in fear.
This leads me on to the final point: hope. Verses 24 and 25 say, ‘For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience’. We can be hopeful because of the certainty of what we do not yet see, and because we have the Holy Spirit bearing witness with out own. It’s easy to be fearful of that which we can’t see yet if we are uncertain of it, but this chance of redemption and a future that we can’t yet see but are certain of is the great hope of Christians across history and the world, that sets us apart from the futility of the world. We were saved in hope, because if we could see the future that has been promised we wouldn’t need hope any more, and we can live in hope through the sufferings of this world because we know what God’s got waiting for us.
Father God, thank you so much for what Christ did for us on the cross, making us co-heirs with him in your family. Thank you for your Spirit that dwells in us, leads us and witnesses to our spirits that we are your children, and thank you that we aren’t left to our own devices and strength to try and live holy lives. We ask that you would help us to put to death the deeds of our bodies, that we might be glorified with Christ on that last day, and that we would wait patiently until then without losing hope.