12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness[c] with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:12-17
As a youth pastor, I think a lot about the impact I’m having on the middle and high school students that God has placed under my spiritual care. Many times I celebrate break-throughs and growth that my youth have experienced, but there are also times when I feel inadequate and that my ministry isn’t measuring up. It’s in the difficult times that I consider the youth pastors that had the greatest impact on my life when I was a teenager. Although I had several wonderful youth pastors in my middle and high school days, Pastor Matt was the one whose spiritual guidance most helped to form me into the Christian man and minister I am today. His teaching, friendship, and pastoral care influenced me in ways he’ll never fully know. Matt walked alongside me as I discerned God calling me to vocational ministry which was an exciting, but very anxious, time in my life. One of the things he said to me during those days that I’ll never forget is this: “Nick, we Christians can disagree on a lot of things, but the Bible is clear that fear does not come from the Lord.”
In our reading from Romans 8, the Apostle Paul teaches us that, indeed, fear has no place in the Christian life. After all, why should we fear when we have been adopted as children of God and heirs with Christ? As Christians, we have been given the Spirit of God to replace the “spirit of slavery” and fear that once reigned in our hearts and minds. Of course, we are fallible, broken people who often allow the spirit of fear to come upon us, but Paul urges us to embrace the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives and leave the old ways of fear behind. 1 John 4:18 also tells us that God’s “perfect love casts out fear.” However, this does not mean that we should expect the Christian life to be without trials and struggles. In v.17, Paul reminds us that our inheriting of the Kingdom means that “we suffer with [Christ] so that we may also be glorified with him.” Take some time today to consider these important questions: 1. Where is the spirit of fear reigning in my heart and mind? 2. How might God be calling me to overcome fear and embrace the Spirit’s call in my life? 3. Am I willing to suffer alongside Christ so that I can experience His glory with him?