Friday, April 23, 2010

Heirs of God.. another view

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified together.

I was talking with a friend yesterday who has a completely different idea about what 'heirs of God' means, so I thought I should come back to it. In his view,"heirs of God" means, "heirs of the promise," as in, the covenant that God made with Abraham, that they would be his people and he would be their God. The fact that for an heir to come into his inheritance someone has to die is no issue here, because in fact we came into our inheritance (the possibility of eternal life and relationship with God)when Christ died on the cross.

I like this, but I like my first idea too, and I can't figure out which makes more sense. If Christ died, and so we came into our inheritance, how are we joint heirs with him? Because he rose again and in him we are raised, and so became the first born of many brothers. That actually makes a lot of sense. Such an interesting thing that God, wishing to adopt his creations as children, took the form of one of them to participate in their lives, so that they could, by following him, participate in his life. Something pleases me very much about the idea that he is both the ...uhhh...testator?... and the heir, and that he died so that the inheritance might be given, and raised to life so he might inherit it and that through identifying themselves with him, everyone else can inherit it! I love that in every way the story is hemmed in by love and goodness; nothing bad is accepted. The inheritance is given and received, death isn't permanent, the family is together and even more family is brought in.

This leads nicely to the "if indeed we suffer with him, that we might also be glorified together." I connect this completely to the idea of following Jesus. He died to bring us into our inheritance and was raised to life to show us how to receive it. Not sure how this makes sense with the rest of Romans 8, but I'll follow through on the idea. We want to be glorified together, to become joint heirs with him. There's a lot of stuff that has to go on, that we don't really know about, can't effect and can't understand. But that's all right because he knows and we just need to follow him. This following involves suffering, and we need to follow him into it-- ie, we need to be with him, even when to do so involves suffering.

This isn't, of course, the only way that that could be read. One thing that I don't understand very well... is it suffering that Jesus is undergoing or underwent (ie, semi-homeless, despised, rejected, death on the cross, heart breaks for the lost etc) that we should seek out and embrace and try to share, in order to be more like him? Do we seek out suffering for the sake of Jesus? Or is it our own suffering, that we will undergo regardless because of our own sin and a fallen world,that we need to invite him into. Ie, when I suffer, I will suffer with Jesus rather than without him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what else is in our inheritance, I bet the "inheritance" concept of Rom 8:17 is best described by Rom 8:18-25: it's the new heavens and earth and "our freedom and glory" in them.

But all of chapter 9 is about the promise of God to Israel. So I think your friend is right. See Rom 9:4: "They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 9:5: To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen."

I've been wondering about what suffering "qualifies" as suffering with Christ too. Does God's suffering "redeem" my pointless suffering? Like, if I suck at life, can I claim that as suffering for God? (As if it's an itemized deduction on a tax form.) Does my suffering need to be "meaningful" or useful?