Eighth Sunday after Trinity
Petite Riviere, Cherry Hill, LaHave – July 13 AD
Rom 8:12f St. Matt 7:15f
We are the
children of God. And if children, then heirs;
heirs of God,
and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that
we suffer with
him, that we may be also glorified with him..
baptism each one of us has been joined mystically with Christ – we
have become sons and daughters of the Most High God.
St. Paul reminds
us of what this means – ye have received the Spirit of adoption
whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
We know this
Spirit of adoption each time we say the Lord’s Prayer – Our Father –
and we have a confidence that this truly is the case. I have seen
this countless times in my ministry, even people who have not had
much to do with the Church for years, in a time of crisis, when we
have prayed this prayer together – it has suddenly brought up such
deep emotion – the recollection and remembrance of who we really
And St. Paul says
something remarkable about this fact of us being God’s adopted
children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ
What does it mean
to be an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ?
Well we know what
it means to be an heir of own parents. And we know that if we were
an heir of very wealthy parents, that it would mean that we would
likely inherit much wealth. But to be an heir of God, and a
joint-heir with Christ, who is the Maker of all things – who has all
wealth, all power, who is all Wisdom, all Love, all Light?
St. John says,
overcometh [that is, who resists the temptations of this life
and remains, by grace, faithful] shall inherit all things.
In our baptism,
we are joined in heaven with the Principle of Life to which all
things are returning – and so we become the inheritors of all
That is quite a
place to start from! No need to strive to build a kingdom here!
is the kingdom of God! God wants to give us the very best gifts.
Did Jesus own or have any care to set up an earthly kingdom? What
did He seek and what should we earnestly desire? What is this
kingdom of God that is ours?
Can we put a price on divine wisdom,
on holy joy, on being filled with all the fullness of love? on
participating in the life of God?
How can we be
assured of this inheritance?
It comes back
this distinction that we have begun to make in our readings –
between the outer life in the world and the inner life of the
Last week I spoke
about entering into God’s rest, that gift of doing less, and sitting
more often at the feet of Jesus, an inner seeking, knocking and
asking – that the kingdom of God, which is within us, might be found
by us – that we might reach inwardly to touch and to allow ourselves
to be touched by the Divine presence.
readings help us to see a way in which we can be distracted from
this inward turn – it is if we are caught up in trying to satisfy
St. Paul says,
MY BRETHREN, we are debtors, not to
the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Now St. Paul is
not speaking about our physical body when we speaks of ‘the flesh’,
but rather, of a “fleshy” way of thinking – that somehow I could be
inwardly spiritually satisfied by being outwardly physically
We owe our bodies
the care and nurture that God would have us give them as His
creatures. But often we live our
lives as if we owed ourselves or some
aspect of ourselves something – as if every impulse should be
met or we cannot be
happy. We set a goal for ourselves of a certain lifestyle and the things associated with it
and we aim for that, thinking that is the secret of happiness.
God is Spirit –
and His inheritance is spiritual – His gifts are spiritual.
But God also
became incarnate in Jesus Christ – and He takes up the body into
Our danger is
either to deny the goodness of the created order and so to despise
it or to deny the spiritual realm that is behind it and so become
immersed in the creation. But in Christ, it is possible for us to avoid both
of these dangers.
St. Paul warns us
of the second danger…
For if ye live after the flesh, ye
That is, if we think that we should
satisfy every urge of the flesh to find satisfaction and inward
peace we will not only be disappointed (because we won’t find
peace), but it will destroy us.
And Jesus warns us that there are
plenty of people – even within the church (wolves with sheep’s
clothing) – who will wrongly try to convince us of this.
prosperity Gospel – is an example – be faithful and God will give
you material prosperity – that is a false prophet. The end is not a
liberation from the ever increasing demands of the flesh, but trying
to satisfy those demands in a fleshy way. The end is not the
liberty of a Christian, but further bondage.
I think we all know
something of this in a way from our own experience of life - how we
can be distracted by our possessions. The
more things we get, the more they have to be kept up, the more we
worry about them being protected. Our possessions take up our
thought and our time, and in so doing our focus is drawn away from
the flesh" includes not just following the impulse to collect
possessions, but ways of thinking including being vainglorious,
envious, dejected, or wrathful, but we've looked at these in
previous Sundays. It also includes being gluttonous or
lustful, but we will look at these two next Sunday.]
If ye through the Spirit do mortify
the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
What is it to "mortify the deeds of
the body"? It is to no longer act outwardly on an inner
prompting of the flesh. And that is less and less a struggle
when we put to death that inward prompting which would
replace a spiritual longing with some purely physical satisfaction. And it is a spiritual struggle,
something painful, to say no to the prompting of the flesh – it is
putting to death those older ways or habits of dealing with our
spiritual longing. It is to deny ourselves and take up the
The Spirit itself beareth witness
with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children,
then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that
we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.
This spiritual suffering we've been
speaking of is a kind of suffering that has a purpose – the forming of new habits, the
becoming a more spiritually minded person, one who turns more and
more often towards Jesus and so becoming a joint-heir with Him – one
who can inhabit his or her body and live in this world without being
overly drawn into it and destroyed spiritually by it. And even
more, one who is able and ready to receive the higher spiritual
gifts and so bear fruit to everlasting life.
This is what it is to be glorified
with him –
it is to live in this world as the Son of God did.
O GOD, whose never-failing
providence orders all things both in heaven and earth: We humbly
beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give
us those things which be profitable for us; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.
[The Collect for the Eighth Sunday