Photo credit to Isik Abla.
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)
I guess, Lord, today I’m still thinking about unity in You. And the word for today is “joint-heirs.” So You’ve brought me to Romans 8 this morning. And I still can’t get over Your love because here it is again, big and bold. I mean, how in the world do we ever “deserve” to become heirs of God, and beyond that, joint-heirs with Christ? Here I am, Your created “creature” and You give me the privilege of being adopted and calling out “Abba, Father!” to You. It’s as though You make it as though I never wasn’t Yours. Oh, maybe I used too many negatives there but it just seemed stronger than saying that You make it appear as though I’ve always been Yours.
But what makes me Yours? How do I gain this immeasurable privilege? See, there’s this other word that when I started reading Romans 8 popped up. It’s the word “nomos.” It’s that word for law. But it’s the word for Your law. And what is Your law? Is Your law the written law in the Word? Yes. But Your law is more. It’s You. It’s Who You Are. It’s the representation of all Your YOUNESS. It was never rules and regulations although those were given so that we could get it and put it into a perspective we could understand. But it’s all about Your love, Your holiness, Your righteousness, and everything else about You and about how You act.
So what if I just thought about it as the law, this nomos, being about Your way. And that makes sense, because before I submitted to Your way, I was full of my own way, my own law, my own nomos. But there came a time when I saw that my way was insufficient and I saw the awesome superiorness of Your way. I saw it in Jesus. Because Jesus became a picture of Your nomos, Your way, for me to see and touch and grasp in my meager human understanding. He came and He walked out Your way in the flesh. And that’s important. Because I’m in the flesh. I need to understand how to walk out Your way in the flesh because I am not fully spirit like You, Lord.
So I put my trust in You, in Christ, and Your Spirit came to my aid. You filled me with Your Spirit of Life and set me free from my way. I don’t have to sin and death no longer has power over me. It’s not that the law was weak. It’s not that the law You gave about You was bad or wrong or incomplete in what it was teaching. But without Christ walking it out in the flesh, we didn’t understand, we didn’t interpret it rightly. Not only that, it’s just not something I can do in my own power. It can’t be walked out in the flesh. Only God can walk it out. I can’t walk it out alone. I can’t even walk it out with all my friends’ help. There is only One who has the power to walk it out, and that’s the One Who Is the representation of the Way Itself. My flesh trashed Your perfect way solely because I couldn’t do it. It was so foreign to my abilities and understanding. But Jesus, well, You are the power of God unto righteousness. You are the power I needed. You are the power we all need.
When I placed my trust in You, Jesus, because You are the power of God, You are the Word, You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then You place Your Holy Spirit in me. Now the same power that walked out God’s righteousness, God’s nomos, God’s law on earth in the flesh, dwells in me and walks it out in me every moment that I live in surrender to You. Now I can mind things of You, not of my flesh. Now I have the mind of Christ. I don’t have to think like me on my own anymore. I can think like You because I can be thinking with You.
When I think like myself, in my flesh, I am thinking like an enemy of God. Why? Because I am not subjecting my self and my mind to Your law, to Your way. Why is that bad? You created me. You know everything. Who am I to think I know more or better? How foolish is that of me? In my own flesh, I don’t give a hoot about pleasing the One who gave me life. How selfish! And in that state, there is no way I can please You because I won’t even want Your ways, I’ll only want mine. I’m like a selfish little baby who doesn’t give a hoot about the other baby I just stole the toy from.
But I don’t have to live like that. I have Your Spirit. I can live in Your way. I find the pleasure of living in Your way. I delight in living in Your way. Your law is like honey to me. This wonderful thing has taken place in me. I’ve been raised in newness of life in You. What I was dead to do before, I am full of powerful life to do now. I’m in eternal debt to You. But it’s the most beautiful debt and the most freeing debt ever.
See, I know about debt. I know about the chains of debt. But this is a debt of love and not a debt of burden. It’s like the slave so loving their master and trusting their master’s goodness that they would commit their life to them, allowing their ear to be pierced through as a sign of the commitment. But it’s even deeper. Because there is no earthly master who would ever take care of me as wonderfully and lovingly as You and call me a joint-heir with Your Only Son!
Here I ought to be a debtor, but You adopt me instead, as one of Your own. And Your Spirit rejoices within me, for me. And it’s not just about me. It’s about everyone who places their trust in You, Jesus. We are together joint-heirs with You. And doesn’t that make us joint-heirs with one another? So if You make us joint-heirs with You, how can we ever treat another brother or sister as less than a joint-heir?
Do I even understand what it means to be a joint-heir? It’s from the Greek word “sugkleronomos.” Strong’s calls it a “participant in common.” Isn’t that saying that Jesus, You have raised us to a position beyond our imagination? Isn’t that like me participating along with You, in the same way as You, right there with You? Really? You would allow me to do that? You would treat me like that? You would let me participate with You? WITH YOU? I mean, You’re not just telling me to participate under You or next to You or alongside You, are You? You are really letting me be a full participant? Me?
I’m an heir of God. I’m a joint-heir with You, Jesus. How You walk, I walk. How You suffer, I suffer. Your blessings are my blessings. Your pain is my pain. Your sisters are my sisters. Your brothers are my brothers. Your joint-heirs are my joint heirs. Am I treating them as You treat me? Am I over them? Am I putting them under me? Or am I participating in common with them as You participate with me?
Isn’t it funny that “nomos” is in the end of this joint-heir word, “sugkleronomos.” I wish I knew Greek as my own language. I’d love to look at all the parts of meaning of this word. And this is just a question here, because I couldn’t find it anywhere, but what if that big Greek word is all about joining in with the Way? If it is, then my life ought to be like You and not the people around me. My life ought to be shaped by You and not the traditions even of the church. My life ought to be lived like You lived and like You continue to live today. How did You treat women? I ought to treat them like You do. How did You treat men? I ought to treat them like You do. How do You treat and feel about the poor, the homeless, the outcast, the sick, the sinner, me, and my neighbor? I ought to treat them like that and feel that same way for them.
While I’ve been searching this out, Lord, I came upon this statement by Skip Moen. I’d like to share it.
“Whenever I refuse to make His purposes absolutely supreme in my life, whenever my desires trump His desires, I contribute to the strangeness of a universe fashioned by the Creator but not responsive to its Creator. In fact, the problem is far more acute since the Creator actually tells me what He demands of me in order to restore His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. But I refuse to listen. I dismiss His instructions as ethnically dependent, culturally irrelevant, theologically unnecessary. I choose my own means of restoring a sense of being at home. My arrogance is shattering. Who am I to say to my Maker, ‘I will interpret Your directions as I see fit’?” And isn’t that the problem. Instead of really following Your way, Lord, we interpret it our own way. I mean, You broke the cultural norm by letting Mary sit at Your feet. That’s where men disciples belonged. You went into the homes of the sinners. You touched the sick. You told religious leaders they needed to be born again. Why? Because You already established Your status quo before time began. Only, we have a way of twisting Your status quo, whether we “know” Your Word or not.
Well, maybe today is the day to start living acording to Your status quo. Maybe today is the day that I really start living like the joint-heir You’ve made me. Maybe today is the day I stop living by my standards for myself and others and I start living in Yours. You know what I’d like, Lord? I’d like to not only see Your way fulfilled, I’d like to join in with You the way You designed for me to. And if this is what the Lord has given You to do, if He has anointed You to proclaim good news to the poor, sent You to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, and sent You to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, well then, that’s the way I want to go with all my life. That’s what I want to join in proclaiming and living out just like You, all the way with You. Yes. This is the greatest privilege and gift You could give, to empower one of those who You have delivered and set free to join in the liberation process with You. God, what a privilege! What a gift beyond measure! I don’t deserve it, this measureless love and beautiful responsibility and relationship You’ve bestowed upon me, but I owe You my life and my everything. Because I’m only a joint-heir because of what You have done in my life. So let me share that immeasureable grace with others and may they then share that grace a thousand times over.