Romans 8— Co-Heirs with Christ
Paul has been hitting us hard. He now shares with us that our identity as children of God means we will suffer and enjoy. He will face the dark and light. As childern of God, we are to experience all life has to offer living life to the full.
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 8:17)
As with all human children, so it is with God’s family we are heirs with Christ. Receiving the inheritance that comes to us in Christ involves sharing in his suffering, the pathway to sharing in His glory. We are never promised that we won’t suffer and struggle, but we are promised life to the full. If Jesus the son of God and the full representation of the Father suffer even unto death on a cross how can we imagine that we won’t endure pain? If Jesus shaped his life to the will of the Father, shouldn’t we also do the same?
When we abandon what we want for what God wants, forgive others instead of punishing them than we are suffering for Christ, no longer is our ego in control, but God is. Forgiving others is releasing the false notion that we are special and people need to be punished for treating us badly. When someone does something wrong correction is needed, but to punish is to dwell on those actions, to be trapped in and by the past. We forgive others in gratitude for the forgiveness and grace offered to us by Jesus’ work on the cross. Christians do not put themselves before others. Jesus on the cross prayed for forgiveness for those who put him there. He didn’t curse them, but forgave them. A key attribute of a Christian is forgiveness, because that is a key attribute of Jesus. When we pray God’s will be done and we mean it, we will endure suffering that will transform us into more Christ-like Christians.
Abandoning lusts and desires does not mean that we will not enjoy life, in some ways we will enjoy life more. By centering our lives on the values that God encourages we will make life more carefree and simple. Anxiety for tomorrow only increases the undue pressures on our life. We need to live in the present not worrying what tomorrow will bring.
It’s not just about suffering for Christ; it’s also about the glory that comes in the Christian life. Life with Christ should have both suffering and joy. We are to enjoy God, to glorify in God, and to spread joy and hope to others. Just as suffering is other centered, so is glory and joy. It is not just about us, but others. Salvation is a life and life is both personal and communal.
Everything we do, everything from taking out the trash, to holding the door open, to hanging out with a friend, parenting our children, looking for our life partner, teaching a class, browsing Facebook should be done to the glory of God. How we live our lives on a day-to-day basis is as important if not more so than where we go Sunday morning. How we behave on the job, at school, and what we do with our free time should all be done to the glory of God. We can and should worship God with our whole lives not just on Sunday mornings in a building designed for that purpose. People call where Sunday service is held sanctuary and consider it more holy, making it more special than the rest of creation. I think it is special, but so are an ordinary garden, the library, a parking lot, a street corner, and our homes. All of it is holy and good because God made it and God is present.
Life with God is about embracing both suffering and joy, facing life as it comes head on, not worrying that life is not how we want it be, but accepting life as it is doing all that we can to make it better than we find it.