Early in 2020 ITV showed a new period drama: Belgravia. The central character of the story was a young man called Charles Pope. Originally given up by his grandparents to be adopted, through shame that he was (so it was thought) born out of wedlock, it turns out that Charles was in fact the legitimate heir to a noble title. Overnight, his fortunes changed. He woke up one day as an obscure middle class merchant: he went to bed that night as a peer of the realm.
On one level, it’s an enjoyable fairy tale. But in Romans 8 our journey to faith is described in the same terms. Through Christ, we become heirs to something even more wonderful: we are adopted as God’s children. We might have the same body, the same genes – but our destiny has changed. We come to know our divine parent: ‘By the Spirit we cry “Father”.’ (v15) And this is not just something external – somehow at a deep level our spirits join together with God’s Spirit, assuring us that we are indeed God’s children (v16).
And although this is a lovely picture of intimacy with God, St Paul is at pains to stress that it is more than that too – then as now, children inherit the riches of their parents (or lack of, as may be the case for many of us!). And God’s divine resources, God’s inheritance for each of us, is boundless. It may involve challenges in this life (v17) – but these will pale in comparison with the glory God has planned for us (v18).
This destiny brings with it both rights and responsibilities. The beautiful right to be free from fear (v15) – fear of death, fear of punishment, fear of exclusion: in Christ, we have life, forgiveness and are welcomed into his divine, global family.
But also the responsibility to lead the new life we are called to (v13). As we saw in earlier reflections, we are born again, new creations. To lead this kind of life we need to be led by the Spirit (v14) carrying the rights and responsibilities of God’s children, his true heirs.
Charles Pope was a fictional character. But your destiny is real. You are a child of God. And because you are his child, God has made you an heir – and a new life awaits. We may battle with fear, but it no longer needs to define us. May God grant us grace to be led by the Spirit and live as his courageous, confident children today.