It is Memorial Day weekend. Besides being a great time to thank God for the men and women who sacrificed themselves for our country, it is the unofficial kickoff to summer.
First, it’s hot.
Second, families start planning summer events.
A BBQ at Uncle Joe’s.
A family reunion at a resort.
Meeting your brother’s family at the pool.
Summer is a great time to get together as a family.
But maybe it’s not so great for you.
And not just because it’s hot.
Maybe you are estranged from your mom.
Maybe you haven’t talked to your dad in years.
Maybe there’s a family feud going on.
Or most of your family have passed away.
And it feels like you don’t belong to a family.
Like you’re all alone.
Today, God’s Word says that you do belong.
That you do have a family.
Just with a different last name…
I. The Divine Social Worker
The lesson for today is from Romans 8. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again…” (Romans 8:14-15)
This is where we left off last week during our Pentecost celebration. Pentecost was all about the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit works through God’s Word…
The Holy Spirit works through baptism…
The Holy Spirit works through communion…
To bring us to faith and strengthen our faith.
That’s so important.
Because prior to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, this passage reveals that we didn’t belong to a family.
We belong to a slave master.
TRUTH: We were SLAVES to FEAR
This Scripture was originally written to 1st century Romans. That religious culture was polytheistic. The people believed that there were many different gods and that in order to appease these various gods, you needed to do their bidding.
Ugh…I’m getting sunburned. Zeus must not have liked my prayer today.
Oh no! My picnic lunch napkin blew into the sea! Poseidon’s gonna be mad at me.
I used a T-bone on that sacrifice. But judging how my romantic life is going…Maybe I should have gone with the prime rib!?!
Americans don’t worship those Mount Olympus gods.
But I would submit that the ancient world didn’t really either.
Because doing all those things, wasn’t really to appease the gods.
It was to really to appease their fears.
That is very American.
I need to spend thousands to put kids in every extra-curricular, because I’m afraid might be a bad parent if I don’t.
I need to work till 11 pm at night, dog tired exhausted, because I am afraid that I won’t get the promotion, my wife won’t be proud of me, and we’ll grow farther apart.
I need to wake up to work out every morning at 5 a, drink nothing but fitness shakes, and buy the clothes that best accentuate my body because if I don’t, I’m afraid my husband won’t think I’m good looking anymore.
I need to say all the socially appropriate things on social media because otherwise I’m afraid I won’t have any friends.
I need to use only the best photos, with the right lighting and the perfect filters on Instagram because otherwise I am afraid that no one will ever want me, and I won’t have a family.
I need to go to church. I need to say my prayers. I need to give money to charity because I’m afraid God hates me, and I need to make it up to him.
It is so easy for fear to be our master.
Which is unfortunate.
Fear doesn’t make good family.
Fear doesn’t make sure you eat something green for supper.
Fear doesn’t tuck you in at night.
Fear doesn’t buy you presents for your birthday.
Fear doesn’t snapchat you funny moments just to make you smile.
Fear doesn’t care if you’re happy.
Fear doesn’t care if you’re hurt.
Fear doesn’t care if you’re sad.
Fear doesn’t care about YOU at all.
Fear only cares about what it wants.
And what it wants?
But the Holy Spirit is not about fear.
…rather, “the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” (Romans 8:15)
He’s like a Divine Social worker.
He saw that we were alone.
He saw that we were abandoned.
He saw how fear mistreated us.
And the Holy Spirit got to work on getting us a new family.
The perfect family.
The PERFECT family.
TRUTH: The Holy Spirit worked our ADOPTION into God’s Family.
He had Jesus make the payment.
He had the Father sign the documentation.
He brought you the legal paperwork of the Gospel.
He came to you through the Gospel and declared:
Adopted into God’s family.
There’s no need to fear.
That means we have a brand-new relationship with God.
And by the Holy Spirit we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (v.15b-16)
There are a lot of different names for dads.
But not just anybody gets to call a father those names.
For example, if I approached one of you dads after the service today and said, “What’s up, Papa?”
That’d be a bit strange.
I’m not your son.
You might say:
Stop using such cutesy language.
I’m a man!
You’re a man.
Be a man.
But if your child calls you that name.
You let them.
Because they’re your child.
TRUTH: The Father allows us to call him PAPA.
That’s exactly what the Hebrew word, “Abba” means. It’s a very informal, very personal, very intimate name that a Hebrew child would call their Hebrew father.
And that’s the name God allows you to call him.
Because he’s not some far off Father.
He’s not some formal being that barely knows your name.
He’s your dad.
We get to call him papa.
TRUTH: The Father calls us CHILDREN.
Now that I have been through an adoption.
I realize how much work it is.
One and a half years of paperwork.
Afternoons spent in meetings and appointments.
A lot of money.
A lot of money!
When I look into cute Daniela’s eyes…
It is all worth it.
Cause I get to…
Legally, call her, “My daughter.”
God thought you were worth it.
He went through years of planning.
He paid a hefty price.
He sacrificed everything.
To bring you into his family.
But to God.
It was worth it.
Now he calls you:
III. The Coolest Bro
Being God’s child means more than getting to call him, “Dad.”
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. (v.17a)
Do you know what an “heir” is?
The heir receives an inheritance.
Maybe it’s dad’s mansion.
Maybe it’s the family farm.
Maybe it’s a ton of stock in Game Stop.
Or millions of dollars of Crypto.
Commonly, heirs are children.
Since you are God’s child, you are his heir.
But there’s a co-heir.
The Bible is saying that you are NOT an only child.
You have a brother.
TRUTH: Jesus is our BROTHER.
There isn’t any better brother than Jesus.
He’s always kind.
He’s always loving.
He’s always caring.
He always does his chores.
He always talks nicely about you.
He always sings your praises.
He can walk on water.
He can stop storms.
He can do all kinds of things that would impress your friends on YouTube.
He never gives noogies.
He never steals your toys.
He never blames you for something that he did.
He blamed himself….
For everything that you did wrong.
The Father listened to him.
And punished him.
On the cross.
Your brother Jesus died for you!
That’s not all.
Do you know what our brother did?
Three days later…
Do you know what he accomplished?
He conquered death.
He brought himself back to life.
Our brother’s cool.
IV. Families Share
I had a friend growing up who had 9 brothers and sisters.
That wasn’t even the amazing part.
The amazing part is that they all shared the same bathroom.
They must have had some kind of regimented morning schedule for showers and baths.
They must have each had a tiny 3-inch area in the medicine cabinet for their stuff.
When they were getting ready…
One sister must have been curling her hair…
While another sister was doing her makeup.
And the little brother was ducking his head between both of them to spit his toothpaste in the sink…
Sharing is a key part of family.
There’s sharing in God’s family too.
Indeed, we share in Jesus’ suffering that we may also share in Jesus’ glory. (v.17c)
On the one hand, this is great news because of what we share with Jesus.
We share our guilt.
We share our shame.
We share our sin.
Actually, we give it all to him as if it were his own and he happily takes it.
But on the other hand, Jesus shares things with us.
The first one…
Doesn’t sound so great.
TRUTH: We share in Jesus’ SUFFERINGS.
Because while Jesus was on earth, people made him suffer.
They ridiculed him.
They mocked him.
They beat him up.
They killed him.
He rose and eventually ascended.
But shortly later, his brothers…that is, the disciples, the group that first believed in him started to suffer too.
People ridiculed them.
People mocked them.
People beat them up.
People killed them.
It wasn’t because they said mean things to the others.
It was because of Jesus.
They suffered solely because they were Jesus’ brother.
You will too.
Being part of God’s family means that others will hate you.
They will think you’re ridiculous.
They’ll mock you.
They’ll beat you over the head with insults on Twitter.
They’ll kill their relationship with you.
Which isn’t all that bad.
In some parts of the world, they will even kill you.
But stick with it.
Stay with God’s family.
Because if you share in Jesus’ sufferings…
That’s just more proof that you really are in his family.
And more proof…
TRUTH: We will share in Jesus’ GLORY.
Because our brother no longer lives on earth.
Our brother has gone home.
To Dad’s house.
But one day, we will join him.
In the greatest, most miraculous, most divine family reunion ever….
Our Triune family will be reunited.
We will see Jesus.
We will hug our Father.
We will see brothers and sisters we haven’t seen in ages.
No one will get in a fight.
No one will have heated political discussion.
No one will complain about the potatoes being too cold.
Because they won’t be too cold.
Because nothing can be too anything.
Because everything will be perfect.
Because this is our father’s perfect family.
Because this family has been made perfect by Jesus.
And because you will be there.