By David Baumann
A Reading from Romans 8:26-30
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 groanings too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches hearts, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Decades ago I heard a story about two sons of an abusive, alcoholic father. One of them became upright, self-motivated, virtuous, and a blessing to others; the other became derelict, bitter, and cynical. When both were asked why they had turned out the way they had, both answered with the same words: “With a father like mine, what else would you expect?” One saw where he had come from, and decided, “That was bad; I will choose to rise above it”; the other abdicated responsibility and stayed with the pattern he knew while blaming another for his own choice.
Today’s lesson is about predestination to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. Being predestined does not mean being compelled to take a particular course without having a choice; it means being handed a free ticket of undeserved access to becoming like Jesus on a course that no obstacles of any kind can block. There are three stages on that course: to be called, justified, and glorified. Being “predestined” and then “called” means, “Here is the path that leads to God; no power can knock you off of it, and you have an unchangeable invitation to follow it.” Like the two sons, you can accept or reject the call. Accepting it sets us right in recognizing both the goal and the way to get to it: being “justified.” Achieving the goal is to become “glorified”: “conformed to the image” of the Son of God. Passages in the Old Testament put it more simply: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15) and “I have set before you life and death; choose life” (Deut. 30:19). Hard? Sometimes. Hence: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.” But we must choose, daily.
David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Malindi – The Anglican Church of Kenya
The Diocese of Pennsylvania