God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Obedience of Faith for the Sake of His Name: Romans 1:1-7


Paul Says Hello

Read Romans 1 – ESV, The Message

There are three things I want to point out from Paul’s opening (1-7):

Jesus was descended from David according to the flesh.

Although the Prophets predicted the Messiah would be a descendent of David and God promised Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3), the most important reason Jesus was a physical descendent of Abraham was God proving once again that he would give his steadfast love “to a thousand generations” after one who obeye Him (Deuteronomy 7:9). God continues to have a special bond with the physical descendants of Abraham because of his faithfulness. Although Paul would later clarify that the benefits of this come only to those who obey as Abraham did, the point that Jesus is a physical Jew is relevant.

21st Century

When I read this, I cannot help but realize that the church does have a similar claim: we are open followers of Jesus. I know – I know – many Churched Christians do not act like it. Yet, just as God continues to have a special bond with the physical descendants of Abraham because of his faithfulness (despite them messing it up), God continues to have a special bond with the physical descendants of Churched Christians because of our ancestors’ faithfulness (despite us messing it up). We do not live on a historical island (21st century *insert geographical region here*). All of history is connected and God continues to reward the righteousness of our ancestors.

Paul’s goal was to bring the obedience of faith for the sake of Jesus’ name.

‘Obedience of faith’ is the major point throughout the book of Romans. Eventually Paul will explain that obedience must come through trust in Jesus (the one sent by God) and not through following rote laws and dead rules (the Law of Moses). Jesus said “so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).

21st Century

It seems apt to state that ‘obedience of faith’ is something churches today often struggle with. We either focus on obedience or faith - but not both. One side says you must follow x-number of rules set by their church and the other side states that all you need is one emotional connection to a theoretical being – using the word ‘faith.’ (I realized I am stereotyping, but I'm writing only 500-ish words at a time, remember?) What we should focus on today is that obedience must come through trust in Jesus to direct our lives and not through following your church’s rote traditions and dead rules.

This was to be accomplished among all nations.

In the same paragraph where Paul compliments the Jews for being the people who brought Jesus into the world he reminds them that Jesus’ message is for the entire world. The Jews no longer can call themselves the children of God. It also reminds the Gentiles that although they may not have been the physical family of Jesus they can still have a part in the inheritance which comes through Jesus.

21st Century

Churched Christians must remember that although Jesus is outwardly obeyed by Christians His message of obedience through faith in Jesus the Messiah – not of joining a church – is for the entire world. The church cannot claim to be the exclusive children of God any longer. Those who do not wish to be part of a church – the Unchurched – can rest assured that they do not need to follow a set of traditions to be God’s children.