Today, let us think about the adoption. Our adoption. We are brothers and sisters in Christ! For sure, most definitely, for once and for all, even if you are in your house alone, even if you were disowned by your family, or even if you feel you are not connected to friends and family, you are not alone. We are not alone because you, and I, we have been adopted into the house of the Lord. If we belong to the house of the Lord, we must live according to the Spirit. Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. We are adopted into the family of a triune God. We are not adopted alone as a child of God. You notice how it says–brothers and sisters? We are a family of God. We are adopted collectively.
If we live by the flesh, we will die. But if we live by the Spirit, we will live. We are made of flesh and spirit. I would say that our spirit is embodied. While the Apostle Paul makes a sharp distinction between our flesh and spirit, in fact, the spirit and the flesh work together and together they make up who we are. In flesh and in spirit, if we live by the leading of the Spirit, we will live. Aren’t we living already? How should our living look different, be different, and how might we act differently if we are led by the Spirit of God?
Abba Father – The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. If Children of God heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ. If we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified in him. As Children of God, in the same way that the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit, I encourage us to bear witness to our brothers and sisters with their spirit. What does this mean? If someone is in pain, see and hear their pain. If someone is isolated and lonely, bear witness to their feelings, and furthermore, go sit with them in their alone-ness. If someone is angry, again see and hear their anger. We may not be called to provide solutions to problems. But we are called to love one another and this involves bearing witness to one another.
Most importantly, let us bear witness to each other that we are children of God. We are each other’s mirror or a time capsule. You know how when you are going through a hard time, the difficulty feels like it will never end? And we tend to forget that in the past God was with us? For example, with the pandemic, when it just started, did any one see the light at the end of the tunnel? We were hit with a kind of an earth-shattering event. We had no idea how long it would last. We need to remember and remind each other that God is faithful. God who was with us and delivered us in the past will again be with us and deliver us once again. We need to bear witness to one another about God’s love for us.
Apostle Paul tells us that we have not received the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. But don’t we live that way sometimes? I have felt that way few times this past week. I felt afraid, felt anxious, and felt fear getting the better of me. But what if we could remember during those times that we have received the spirit of adoption? Receiving the Spirit of adoption means that we are wanted. We belong. We are somebody’s children! We have a home. We will be fed. We will be clothed. We will have a place to put our heads down without worrying about our safety. Spirit of adoption, sisters and brothers! We are adopted. We have a God who we can call Abba Father.
This term “Abba Father” sounds different than “Our Father in Heaven.” Abba Father is like calling God, daddy. Say it with me. Abba! Father! If English is not your mother tongue, then say this in your native tongue, whatever that may be. For me, it is “appa” in Korean. When I want to be taken seriously, maybe when I’m making a grand request, or when I’m trying to be formal, I might say “abuji” which means “father” in Korean. But when I’m wanting my daddy, when I’m wanting comfort and love, I call out to my “appa.” Similarly, our father in heaven is also our Abba Father. Not only is God our Father, but also our Abba Father. Together we have a father in heaven who wants to be intimate with us and to be known by us so familiarly that we would call out to God in our most vulnerable and needy times.
This past week, I have been working to complete a very important project, perhaps the biggest project I have ever taken on. I felt anxious. I felt afraid. I felt as though I was held hostage to my fears. But truth be told, I was so lucky to be preparing this sermon this week. I saw those words for our Scripture reading this week, “When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15-16). I cried out, “Abba! Father!” and felt reassured that God would hold on to me and never let me go. God’s got my back. No matter what happens in the next couple weeks, my anxieties will not get the better of me, because God is my Abba Father.
The same is true of all of us. You will not slip through the cracks and be forgotten. In our hardship, whether emotional, psychological, financial, relational, work related, or family relations, God cares about us. God loves us. God adopted us! God wants to be our Abba Father! You know when you hear about kids being given up for adoption? It breaks your heart that a child was given up, right? But if someone wants that child, then they will be given a home, and loved, and cared for. Well, we are not orphans. Not at all. We are wanted by God to be loved, to be cared for, and to be given a home, an eternal home! Imagine this –If you are hungry, and you have a million dollars in your bank account, wouldn’t you withdraw some of your money from the bank because you are in need and buy yourself a meal? When you feel lonely, when you feel helpless, when you feel powerless, draw on the love of God that is “banked” with your name on it! Draw from the unconditional love of God when you are in need. We have God’s love that is promised to us. Why would we not turn to God in times of need to draw from God’s love?
Lastly, on this Trinity Sunday, let us remember that our God is a triune God – Abba Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We not only have God the Father, but God the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Pray to God the Father. Pray to God the Son. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Pray to our triune God. You see, God is three and God is one. So, when you pray to the Father God or God the Son or God the Holy Spirit, you are praying to our Lord our God. Once when I was a chaplain, I visited a patient who was in distress. Medically she had lots of complex issues. But spiritually, she felt she had a problem. She could not pray to God, who she thought of as God the Father. She could only pray to Jesus, God the Son. I encouraged her to continue to pray to Jesus. And I also encouraged her to think, to imagine, and to meditate on this fact: Jesus, who is the second person of the trinity, is God. Praying to Jesus, the Son of God, is also to pray to God the Father. To each of us, I want to say, pray as you can. If when you pray you say Father God, or if when you pray, you call out to Jesus, or if when you pray, you call out to the Holy Spirit, just keep praying. While you pray, remember that our God is a triune God. Praying to God the Father is also to pray to the God the Son, which is also to pray to the Holy Spirit.
Last week was Pentecost Sunday. Let us continue to remember and to invite the Spirit of God to fill us, the space we move in, and in the relationships in which we find ourselves. Because after all, we are born not only of water but also of the Spirit. Let the Spirit of God testify on our behalf. And remember that when we do not know how to pray the Spirit intercedes for us:
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)
This week, as we pray, or when you can’t pray, remember that the Spirit helps us in our weakness. If and when you can’t pray, bring your silence to God. Bring your sighs to God. Sigh along with the Spirit. “The very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” So come. As Jesus said,
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Find rest in God. Feel the love of God. Love one another. Bear witness for one another as the Spirit bears witness on our behalf and helps us in our weakness.