14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.
18 I believe that the present suffering is nothing compared to the coming glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 The whole creation waits breathless with anticipation for the revelation of God’s sons and daughters. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice—it was the choice of the one who subjected it—but in the hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of God’s children. 22 We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. 23 And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. 24 We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.
31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?
The apostle Paul tirelessly preached Jesus, even as the Roman Empire (and many Hebrew religious leaders) fought him, imprisoned him at times, and finally executed him. Paul’s foes often seemed impossibly strong. The great apostle felt human emotions, but refused to let fear govern his life or determine what he would do. That was not just human resolve. In his letter to Christians in Rome, he stated his guiding conviction clearly: “If God is for us, who is against us?”
Dear God, teach me how to trust your steadfast love more completely. In my relationships with others and with you, guide me to live free from fear because I know that you are “for” me. Amen.
What is the source of our trust in God? What is it that allows us to lay aside our fear and rely on God?
Is it God’s might, the image of God as a fearsome warrior ready to vanquish our foes? Is it God’s wealth, the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills who gives us our daily bread? Is it God’s knowledge, the all-knowing presence who sees our past and our future? Do those things compel us to abandon fear, to rest in God’s embrace?
I think all of those things can bring us some sense of peace, but there is something greater that Paul, the author of today’s Scripture, is drawing our attention toward: God’s love. Paul describes God as our loving father, as one who cares for us so deeply as to give up Jesus, God’s son, for our sake. Paul describes God as one who feels our pain, who sets us free, who gives us hope.
What good would it be to have a warrior without love? What good would it be to have wealth without compassion? What good would it be to have knowledge without empathy? I find that my most life-giving trust in God is birthed out of the belief that God is love, that God fulfills the definition of love beyond what any of the rest of us can embody, that God has perfected love. It is there that I find the greatest peace and rest.
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