A reading for Wednesday, May 25, 2016: Romans 8:12-17.

In Rome, the ancient practice of adoption was fairly common especially among the ruling class of senators. The primary purpose of adoption was to secure an heir that could inherit the family wealth and could in return care for the aging parents. It was a contractual relationship between families, that sometimes didn't even mean the adoptee had to break ties with their birth family. There were political ties that were secured through the practice of adoption. The best example we have is Octavius who was adopted by Julius Caesar and who later became the first emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus.

The Apostle Paul is well aware of the Roman practice (and the Greek one too which was similar) as he write his letter. He compares our relationship with God through Christ to adoption. We too have been made heirs to the Kingdom of God, just as Christ. However, we are joint heirs says Paul. To Roman ears this was a familiar, and yet radical idea. The assumption of the Roman practice of adoption would be that Christ has primacy. That Christ is the heir and we are then dependent on Christ for our part of the family fortune. But Paul says something different, something radical. You inherit the very same thing. There is no primacy of the relationship. What Christ has inherited in the glory of the Father, we too have inherited. We are children of God just as much and so we suffer with Christ and we also inherit with Christ.

Adoption is not just dependency on God. Adoption is freedom to live in a new family. Adoption has benefits as well as responsibility. Adoption is about love of the parents and the duty to serve them.

"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God"



Popular Posts