“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.” (Romans 8:14-17)
“[T]hat very Spirit” – that is the Spirit that came down at Pentecost. How quickly it used in scripture! The writer of Romans came to faith soon after the death and resurrection of Christ. How quickly the Spirit became a part of the Christian confession of faith. It was not by human means that this happened, although the writer of Romans adding it into his letter probably helped in spread across the known world at that time. And it spread to us, beloved reader. It is part of our confession of faith. How good is it also that this year’s lectionary theme if confession, penance, and forgiveness. And how well that suits this passage for today! Everything tied up so tidily!
But faith is not tidy, beloved reader. It is messy; we slip and slide in our beliefs, using them at times to divide us instead of uniting us. Messy because Christians have been hounded and persecuted for their faith. Messy because we walk away from our faith, or consign it to only a small portion of our lives instead of letting rule everything. And messy too because the Spirit convicts us of our sins, and pleads with us to return to faith.
The Spirit came down at Pentecost, not to tidy up the loose ends but to start and establish a faith that can all things, endure all things, accomplish all things, and forgive all things. And let us not forget that there was faith before the coming of Jesus, the Christ, resurrection, and Pentecost. So perhaps I misspoke when I said “start and establish”; more accurately it was to jump start and spread faith. Lead it, and the believers, into new and renewed faith. Remind us of what had been and what can come – for good and for bad.
May this Pentecost season see your faith confirmed and encouraged to grow! Selah!