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. 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. (Romans 8:14-17)
“I’m the daughter of the King!”
Spending a few days at Walt Disney World with my 21-year-old daughter (we’ll never be too old for the Magic Kingdom), Brooke and I decided this was a better version of the “I’m a Princess” theme. We are sons and daughters of the Most High King. What does that mean, and what does it tell us about following Jesus?
I struggled with where to go with this verse, so I went back to the Lectionary readings for the day (as Brooke reminded me, “It’s a good thing we’ve got a big fat book with answers to most of our questions!”):
“Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah: 22:15-16)
Reflecting on the other devotionals in this blog, this seems to be a common theme for all of us this season. Scripture’s direction is very clear on this one aspect of what it means to follow Jesus (and serve as co-heirs of His Kingdom)… that we defend the cause of the poor and needy. I cannot help but hear this as yet another call for us to be faithful stewards of the riches that the King has given to each of us.
I honestly did not expect my devotional to turn into a stewardship message. In fact, I’m incredibly frustrated that it did. I want to celebrate the fact that I’m a princess, not think about how Christ is calling me to greater sacrifice. But I can’t have one without the other. We must share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Um, I don’t like the sound of that. I’d like a Fast Pass, please. Maybe just skip that ride altogether? What does He mean, “share in his suffering?”
George Buehler shared a compelling message on Ash Wednesday, reminding all of us that following Jesus requires the death of our sinful natures, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Romans 6:8) “Who wouldn’t want that?”, George exclaimed. And I thought, “lots of people… maybe most people… including many lifelong Christians.” So why don’t we all immediately respond in excitement to this offer?
I think there are only two reasons for a Christian not to… (a) we don’t really believe the words (and we’ll rarely admit this, even to ourselves)… sounds good in principle, but if I act on them and it’s all a fairy tale, not only will I feel stupid, but I will have made some sacrifices I might regret), or (b) we have no inkling of what it means to share in his glory… so we’re afraid that the tradeoff might just not be worth it.
To the latter I say this… the Creator of the universe is offering to live in us and through us, and we think it might not be worth the trade off? Or we’re afraid of it? How can I continue to be so dense?
And yet I am…
I believe that most Christians satisfy themselves with just the faint shadow of the real presence of the living Christ in their lives, mostly out of a fear that we never stop to name. Maybe it’s the challenge of the sheer numbers of the suffering, around the world and in my own backyard, that are just too great. I don’t know where to start… so I’ll try not to think too hard about that. In fact, maybe stay away from quiet contemplation altogether. And don’t read that big, fat book too much, that will just challenge me more.
And then I’m reminded, by some one or some thing, that I’m not on this ride alone… my co-heir walks with me every step of the way, telling me to “fear not!” And I choose to believe, once again… die just a little more to myself… and experience His Presence just a little more deeply.