Thought to Guide Your ReadingGod will have mercy on those He will have mercy on. Our job is to have faith that His Judgment is right.
Summary in 100 Words or LessWe now live in the Spirit of Christ who set things right once and for all. We have an intimate relationship with God as we wait for our Inheritance. Nothing can ever separate us!
Israel does everything backwards. God is the one setting all things right, not them. Those who trust God know the Word is within us already. Israel, on the other hand, has rejected the Word. God then called outsiders to make Israel jealous. The irony is that nobodies were chomping at the bit to obey Him while His Chosen People were too busy to acknowledge their god.
How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right
We live under a law that frees us to live according to the Word written on our hearts.In the previous chapter (as we divide it) Paul had a terrible problem—the Law of Moses, which God gave, made him sin more because it pointed out the boundary between good and evil. Eventually Paul could only do what he did not want to do. He ended by asking who would save him from that terrible life. The answer came—Jesus! So now we live under the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. This law does not require us to answer technical, theological questions. This law tries to get us to live according to the Law written on our hearts. This law is also written on the hearts of the Gentiles. Our task is to help them acknowledge it instead of suppressing the truth.
When we focus on technical, theological questions—What is the exact moment we are saved? Who exactly is saved? What are we allowed to do in worship and what is forbidden?—we focus on ourselves. Within each of those questions is a selfish one—Am I saved? Who should I teach to be saved? Am I worshipping correctly? Instead, God wants us to focus on the Inheritance we will receive and become His Ambassadors to the world so they, too, can receive that Inheritance. The technical details are left for God to work out.
The earth will be set right, too.When Adam sinned, the entire world was placed under a curse. Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. are all effects from that curse. Death, viruses, and sicknesses come because of the curse. The entire Earth groans as it waits for God to set it right. The Resurrection is not limited to humans. The entire world will be set right when Jesus returns.
The Spirit of God bridges the communication gap between us and God.Jesus told the Apostles that the Spirit would lead them to understand all truth and give them the words to say when they were on trial. Paul tells the Roman Christians that the Spirit tells God the things which are too deep, too emotional for us to express. If you do not know what to pray because the words will not come, groan. God has provided a way to have our groans translated.
Because God is on our side, nothing can defeat us.God has Ultimate Authority over the entire world. He has the ability to set everything right. He has set everything to work together to eventually set all things right. When we were unwilling to set things right He sent Jesus to be our Sacrifice so that we could join Him the moment we were willing. So Paul's questions are very important—who could possibly place a wedge between us and God? No one! Even when people try, God forgives us and Jesus sticks up for us. We can never unwillingly be separated from God!
God will never give up on the Israelites.This is a theme which came up in the prophets. If God would not give up on the people who executed His Son, God will never give up on anyone now. What an awesome God!
People who did not seem interested in God embraced His Way. People who God called to be His Chosen People couldn't care less about His Way.Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, knows first-hand how the Gentiles openly accepted God's Way through Jesus and the Jews rejected Jesus because the Gentiles accepted Him. Jesus pointed out the irony of Israel when the Roman Centurion confessed faith in Him when the Jews argued with Him on technical, theological questions. Israel thought they could set their relationship with God right by understanding every small detail God put in Scripture. Instead, they missed the point—Jesus! So Paul wants them to remember—God called the Gentiles because His Chosen People, Israel, were unwilling to obey Him.
If Israel's problems were generational, I think this section is applicable to us today. We see people we would never expect to care about God's Way—prisoners—accept God's Direction and set things right. Yet churches who have God's Scripture, a personal relationship with the Creator, and a theoretical community of people dedicated to setting things right for God cannot find people willing to set things right. I believe one of the most important issues churches must address are the people who want to be part of them but do not want to set things right. Eventually we will be exactly like Israel and have God complain:
Day after day after day,Tomorrow we will read more of why God accepted the Gentiles and what came out of it.
I beckoned [the church] with open arms,
And got nothing for my trouble
but cold shoulders and icy stares. (10:21, The Message)
If I could be cursed in exchange for the souls in the church, I would.You may wonder why, if I have so many critiques of the church—especially the churches of Christ—why am I still here? Why would I try so hard to challenge people who don't seem interested in God to quell their interest in religion? The answer is found within Paul's attitude: I want to stay because I love God's Church and want to see His Chosen People have their relationship set right when we return to being God's Lighthouses to the nations. I know we are the best way for God to set all things right on the earth. I also realize we are not the only way God sets things right on the earth.
Do you believe nothing can ever separate you from God's Love without your permission?
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