“. . . you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as God’s children. With this Spirit, we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:15b-16
A friend of mine took in two young boys as foster children. Both boys had abandonment issues since they were often left alone to fend for themselves with their biological mother (the father was not in the picture, apparently). My friend and her husband worked with the boys to give them love and a stable home, and they did all that they could to help them feel that someone was there for them and loved them. Eventually, they adopted both boys, and even though they had been a family while the boys were in their foster care, signing the paperwork made them legally and officially a family – instant family!
When I married my husband nearly ten years ago, I didn’t just have him as my family but also his four children, their spouses, and five (now six) grandchildren. Since he was my first marriage and I had no children of my own (except for cats and a dog), it was an amazing experience to have instant family and be a step-mother and grandmother.
My husband was brought into my family instantly and loved by all, especially by my youngest niece. Since his parents had died years before, and he had a smaller family on his side, he appreciated my larger family with all the challenges and complex personalities that came with it.
When we are baptized or when we begin to attend a church, we instantly become part of a family. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds the church in Rome, that they are family through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are drawn together through Jesus’ death and resurrection and brought into the family of God.
Just like my friends’ adopted children, we are instantly made part of the family where we can be loved, supported, assured, comforted, and encouraged. Just like my husband and I, the church family can bring acceptance and love. Unfortunately, too many people don’t consistently experience that in a church family. For many, family also brings images of neglect, abuse, fear, and rejection.
Yet, the church is called family, and in spite of our faults and our VERY HUMANNESS, we also know grace and unconditional love. As part of God’s family, we have the opportunity to set an example for reconciliation, forgiveness, perseverance, kindness, compassion, and love. When we have disagreements, when we experience conflict, when we don’t get along, maybe we could choose another way than leaving the church or gossiping. Maybe we could work through it and stop being defensive. Maybe we could resolve, forgive, let go of our own need to be right or to have things done our own way, and instead, find ways to resolve our differences and keep drawing people into the family of God where we exercise the fruits of the Spirit.
Verse 16 says, “The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children.” Let us find ways to bring in the positive and get through any negative. Let us put aside our pettiness and find our common ground. It’s not hard to find – we are one in the Spirit – with God as our center, we know where to turn. May it be so.