- The Explore the Bible lesson for April 19 focuses on Romans 8:12-25.
It’s been interesting—and heart-wrenching—to hear good friends speak of late of being scared. “Scared” is not a word I’ve ever heard many of them ever use. They’re scared, I’m scared—of this wicked engulfing the globe.
We’re hiding in our homes, venturing out only when essential. We are living in strange times. It’s like an invisible earthquake. Ground we once thought of as stable— grocery store ground, doctor office ground, school ground, even church ground—is shaking beneath our feet. There is not one place we can stand where we can be assured the ground won’t split open and swallow us whole, or worse, swallow our children or grandchildren.
We don’t feel safe on a level most of us have never experienced in our lifetime. My wife grew up only two miles as the crow flies from the flight line at Fort Worth’s Carswell Air Force base in the 1960s. Essentially, they lived at ground zero should a nuclear war occur. Yet, even then, children went to school, parents went to work and churches were bursting at the seams with post-World War II Baby Boomers.
Not now. I miss my church most of all. I didn’t know until now how much I needed to see those people regularly, even the ones with whom I didn’t have a chance to speak personally.
These words from Romans could not come to us at a more appropriate time. They speak of something direly in short supply: security. Whatever these days may turn out to mean to any one of us, there cannot possibly have been a better time in our lives to breathe in the security only the gospel of Jesus provides.
Verse packed with promise
We should allow the words in the verse just prior to today’s text, Romans 8:11, guide our conversation from here on. “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give you life to your mortal bodies though his Spirit, who lives in you.”
The promise of that one verse is incomprehensible, worthy only of a faith that trusts what it cannot see or understand, much less explain. Would we want less? For that which we can see and feel we don’t need faith. It is what we cannot experience with any human sensory capacity for which we need faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
I didn’t do well in first grade. I’m not referring to academics. We lived in Louisiana where students started school at age 5. I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to be separated from my mom all day. I rode the bus to school every day, too, so the separation was even greater.
One day, my teacher told me she had a surprise for me and she’d tell me about it near the end of the day. I was so excited and curious. Near the end of the day, she called me to her desk and told me the surprise. My mom was going to pick me up at the end of the day. I wouldn’t have to ride the bus, among other things!
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It’s hard to describe how wonderful that news was to my ears. It changed my attitude about the whole day, knowing my mom was coming to get me. I couldn’t see her yet. Even so, my teacher gave me hope, one of the most invisible and powerful energies in existence in all of God’s creation.
Freed from the spirit of fear
This is the promise of this phenomenal passage. We have been freed from a spirit of fear (v. 15). We are set to inherit all the wealth of God’s creation, of God’s very Spirit. So, we endure whatever our human experience brings, as well as whatever burdens our spirit.
We can endure the suffering, even the fear of it, in the present knowing that, as God’s children, our inheritance outweighs any deficit of human experience. “We are God’s children.” Is there anything more wonderful? We will inherit the kingdom of God. We are co-heirs with Christ (v. 17). What belongs to Jesus now also belongs to us. That is the promise of God—God’s word, God’s assurance.
So, we can walk with courage into the world in which we live. Nothing can diminish our inheritance.
Reports come daily of nurses and doctors who have contracted this wicked virus and died. Two doctors, married to each other, are treating COVID patients, those hanging near death. They have no idea if they will live through this pandemic. Despite the potential cost, they’ve placed themselves on the front line of caring for the sick, willing, if they must, to receive themselves the very illness they battle.
They have three children. This week, they rewrote their wills. They want to make certain that, no matter what, their children are cared for, even if they die. They are securing their children’s inheritance.
Their story reminds me of Jesus and the way he forever sealed God’s will for us, written in his very blood. Jesus entered our sin-sick world, knowing full well what it would cost him. On the cross, Jesus absorbed into himself our sin and the death that came with it.
Now, we wait invisible hope that the invisible God is fulfilling the promise of God. We are now awaiting, and trusting, what God in Christ has eternally secured for us.
Glen Schmucker is a writer and blogger in Fort Worth. He has served as a Texas Baptist pastor and as a hospice chaplain.