[Aug 19]—Abba

Romans 8:14-17

            Several years ago, my wife and I applied to be foster parents, hopefully leading to adoption. Let me tell you, we’ve heard some horror stories about children who’ve been abandoned or neglected or abused. My wife was an emotional mess the entire night after we were forced to listen to stories about children who were treated this way. Most of these kids have some emotional problems of some sort, since they’ve had to deal with being alone. Often they’re shuffled from one place to another until they find. . . home. Family. A place where they know (or at least can know) that they’ll be loved, provided for, and protected.
            When you come to think of it, every Christian should be pro-adoption, right? None of us were natural members of God’s family. Contrary to what you might’ve been taught, not all people are God’s children. By our nature and actions all of us were enemies of him. If we were searching for him, like C. S. Lewis said, it was like a mouse’s search for a cat.
            But he sought us out. He sent his Son into the world to become fully human. This Son underwent all the humiliations and pains, both trivial and egregious, that we undergo: Hunger, thirst, tiredness, frustration, loneliness, etc.
            By placing our faith in Christ, we exchanged one spiritual “father” for another. We’ve been adopted out of one family into another.
            And that brings us to today’s passage. When you become God’s child, you don’t come into your inheritance all at once. One day you will, but for right now, your Father's given you a down-payment on your inheritance, so to speak. Of course I’m talking about the Holy Spirit. He comes to live inside of you from the moment you receive Christ for the rest of eternity. What does this passage tell us about this glorious Invader?
            First off, he’s the starkest possible contrast to the spirit who used to rule over you and live with you. The Enemy of your soul is a slave master who makes the harshest, cruelest, most horrific plantation owner of the Antebellum South look like a piker. This Spirit is the Spirit of freedom: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
            He’s also the Spirit of adoption. According to MacArthur, this isn’t referring to the Spirit as the means of our adoption, but the sign of it. He testifies along with our spirit that we’re God’s children. MacArthur: “In Roman culture, for an adoption to be legally binding, 7 reputable witnesses had to be present, attesting to its validity.” Apparently here we need only one. He’s the Spirit of Truth, so when he says something, you can count on it.
            How does he do this, by the way? Paul doesn’t go into detail here, but I think that there are two aspects to this.
            First, he testifies before the Father, the Son, the assembled angels, and every demon from Hell that you belong to him. He’s the mark of ownership upon you, like a company logo. The fact that he lives inside of you proclaims who you are and whose you are.
            But there’s another aspect to this we need to consider. He testifies to all the above, to be sure, but he also testifies to us. When you feel alone, he’s there to tell you “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When you’ve committed that sin once again, he tells you “I’ve forgiven your wickedness and will remember your sins no more.”
            And when you feel far away from the Father, he’s the one who puts the word Abba on your lips. Abba. One of the most beautiful words ever uttered. Do you know the history of this word? It’s an Aramaic term that children used to address their fathers. "It connotes tenderness, dependance, and a relationship free from fear or anxiety." (MacArthur again). It was the first words a baby usually uttered, since it’s also the simplest and easiest word an infant can learn: “Ah-bah.” It’s roughly equivalent to “Papa.” And it’s the word Jesus used to address his own Father in his darkest moments before the Cross.
            This is the word the Spirit puts on our lips as we address our Father. Not in flippancy, but in intimacy, closer than a heartbeat, closer than the breath on our lips.
            And he also speaks to us about our inheritance. Remember, as wonderful as he is, he’s the down payment. As God’s adopted children, we’re heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. He wasn’t satisfied with just forgiving our sins and pulling us out of Hell. He names us as his heirs. What belongs to him belongs to us. Of course, for right now we have to go through a little of his suffering, but that only shows that we’re going to share in his glory.
            I can’t wait. Can you?

Papa. Wow. I get to call you that. I’ve got to say it again. Wow. Thank you, Papa. 

No comments:

Post a Comment