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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 11, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 8:14–17      

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 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,

and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (NRSV)

“Because I said so, that’s why.”

Is there anything less satisfying to hear when you’re a kid and a parent tells you to do something you don’t want to do or says that you can’t do something you do want to do, and you ask “Why?”

“Go fold the laundry.”


“Because I said so, that’s why.”

And then there’s the huff, the eye roll, and the muttered comment, something like “It’s like I’m your personal servant or something.”


And parents, they don’t always have the time to tell kids in a meaningful way that everyone in the family has something to do to make the household the way they want it to be. To tell the truth, parents don’t always—check that, don’t usually—have that thought in mind when they tell their kids to do chores. They just want the laundry folded. Still, that time when the kid finally folds the laundry without being told to, it means something more than just getting the clothes folded. It means at some level they want to help, that there’s an acceptance of their part in the process, that they’re part of the team.

I think that this is what this passage is getting at, when it talks about the spirit of slavery versus the spirit of adoption. When we’re adopted we become part of the family, with its shared goals and our individual parts in bringing them about. If we’re slaves none of that matters. Our desire to help is meaningless. Who we are? That’s meaningless, too. We’re just someone that does laundry.

There’s a lot of that latter quality present in how people often express their faith, the disregard for other people’s identity, autonomy, and desires, and the willingness to diminish them and compel them to conform—by force, if necessary. Sadly, it’s exactly the opposite of what God wants us to do: that is, to take on the chore of expressing God’s love in the world.

Lord, remind us that we are all part of one family and we are called to treat each other as such. Teach us the difference between support and compulsion, so that we can better show your love. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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