Romans 8:12-25

The Gospel According to Annie

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Romans 8:12-25

The Gospel According to Annie

The Rev. Alex Stevenson

I am sure many of you are familiar with the character of Annie. Annie was a comic strip and later became a hit musical and spawned a couple of movies. Annie was an orphan in the 1930’s. She was unappreciated and even mistreated in the orphanage.

But her life is turned around when she is adopted by a millionaire called “Daddy Warbucks.” Overnight she goes from being an indigent orphan to being the adopted daughter of the richest man in the world. She goes from not having enough to eat to having tea with the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt. She goes from having to work in the orphanage to having servants at her beck and call.

At first glance that seems to be what Paul is talking about happening to us on a spiritual level. We were once orphans in this world. Because of sin we were separated from the one who gave us life. Our only prospects were death and eternal punishment. We were destined to dwell in sin.

But we have been adopted by God. God sent His Son to pay our debt and free us from sin. And through the Spirit we have been adopted as children of God. We are kids of the King of Kings. Overnight we have gone from being indigent orphans to being the adopted daughter and sons of the creator of the world!

Just in case anyone doubts that adoption God gave His Spirit as proof that we are his children. The spirit prompts our spirit to call God “Abba,” Father. This is important. “Abba” is not just any Aramaic word for a patriarch. It literally means “Da-da” or “Daddy.” Our relationship with God is like that of a small child who runs to their father crying Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.”

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I remember when my daughters were small. I would come home and they would run to me calling “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” No one would doubt for a minuet that they were my children. Their childlike spirit was witness to the fact of my fatherhood. In the same way the Spirit draws us to God as a witness that we are children of God.

But there are certain results and consequences to being Children of God. We are heirs. Romans says, “We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.” When you hear the word “Heir” you automatically think of money. An heir receives the amassed wealth of the one leaving the fortune.

But in this case we are talking about much more than money. We are heirs to the Kingdom of God! We are talking not about gold and silver and stocks and bonds. We are talking about grace and peace and hope and love. We are talking about power to do good and transform and change people and the world.

If we are heirs to such a fortune why are so many of us living in spiritual poverty? Why aren’t we living like heirs to a fortune? Why aren’t we just swimming in hope and peace and joy and love? Why aren’t we transforming the world and people’s lives? I think may of us do not realize the wealth we have received. We say “yeah I am a child of God. God is my Daddy” but we never ask the accountant what we are heirs to. We are heirs with Christ to infinite storehouses of spiritual riches, we should live like heirs.

But being heirs to the riches of Heaven is not always easy. In the context of our being heirs Romans says, “If, in fact, we suffer with Christ so that we may be glorified with him.” Like Annie we are heirs but this is real life not a cartoon. There are hardships involved in being an heir to God. We are heirs to a kingdom that is at war with the power that rule this world. We are princes and princesses of selfless love in a world that serves selfishness.

Jesus is the prime example of this. He did nothing but serve his Father and love his neighbor. Yet he was mistreated and maligned and slandered. He healed others but he was beaten and nailed to a cross. He lifted others up yet he was mistreated and lifted up on a cross for other to ridicule.

Paul is also an example of this truth. He was a co-heir with Christ. And like Christ he suffered. He was hunted and imprisoned and beaten and even stoned. Eventually he was beheaded for being a child of God!

And we will suffer in this world. Some today still lose their lives for being children of God. Some lose their jobs or accounts or friends. But Paul, who should know, said that all this is nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us. This is nothing to compare to the glories of the Kingdom of our Daddy.

That brings us to the next consequence of being Children of God. As Children of God we live in expectation. Romans says, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” And we wait with it. The world we live in is a world without hope. It is a world in which injustice and evil rules.

But our Daddy is going to fix that. Our Daddy is bigger than the Devil. The Devil is just a big bully terrorizing this world. But God promised to put the Devil in his place. And all creation is groaning awaiting the fulfillment of that promise.

Romans likens it to a woman giving birth. She experiences pain during child birth. Sometimes that pain can be beyond any pain she has ever known. But she knows that in the end a child is being born. She is willing to go through it all so that she can bring a new life into the world. In the same way we await the coming of our inheritance knowing that the pains of this life will pale in comparison to the glories of God.

You are a child of God. If you have given your life to Christ and accepted him as your Lord then you have been adopted by God. You are an heir to the glories of heaven and a co-heir with Christ. When you heart cries out “Abba Father” that is the Holy Spirit moving your spirit to turn to your heavenly Daddy. When you feel led to pray, to praise, to serve, that is proof that you have been adopted by God.

So live like children of the King. You owe this world nothing. But you owe all you are to God. So serve God and glorify God in everything you do. Share the joy and hope and peace and love that you are as an heir of God have in infinite measures.

Sure, there will be hardships in this life. But those hardships are far out measured by the glories of your Daddy’s kingdom. Tell the world that you are a child of God and that they can be to. Say it with me now. “I am a child of God.” “And you can be too!”

Copyright 2008, Alex Stevenson. Used by permission.