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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 10 - Romans 11-13: The Gentile and the Jew-Man Should be Friends

Today’s Reading: Romans 11-13

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God accepted the Gentiles in order to make the Jews jealous so they would be with Him, too.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Has God irrevocably rejected Israel? No. God will never irrevocably reject Israel. When they rejected God they opened the door for the Gentiles.
Gentiles, remember that God grafts in and cuts off. God added you, not the other way around. The Jews remain God's Oldest Friends. God wants a people who understand why they are with Him. How awesome is our God!
Be a living sacrifice for God, unified as a body. Set things right. Be an upstanding citizen because God gives the state power to punish. Love others as you love yourself.
Don't waste time, it's a precious resource.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God did not permanently remove the Jews from being His Chosen People.

This section of Scripture is one of the most complicated and misused concepts in the entire Bible. Paul is trying to help mediate a feud between the Jews and the Gentiles, caused when the Jews were kicked out of Rome but let back in later. In the previous reading Paul wrote how God wanted the Jews to obey Him but they would not. Therefore, He called the Gentiles to be His Chosen People. The reason is multifaceted, but the effect was that the Gentiles were added to God's Chosen People and Paul hoped Israel would become jealous and claim God as their god instead of their cultural symbol. God had not rejected Israel for good but to set things right. The Gentiles may have joined the Jews as God's Chosen People but they had to set things right to keep their place. God wants people who understand why they are His Chosen People to be His Chosen People.
In viewing the Jew/Gentile debate in Romans in the 21st Century, I have put forward the idea that churched and unchurched people are the Jews and Gentiles from the first century. Many churches today are dying. We can trace their deaths to several things all stemming from one major issue—not realizing why God chose them in the first place. God wants us to be His Ambassadors to the world. Many Christians want to be the rulers of the world. So God now calls those who are outside the church to set things right. This is why many people see outsiders as better givers, better philanthropists, and better humanitarians than Christians. Christians must see that these things are happening not because God no longer wants us but because God wants to make us jealous so we will return to Him and set things right. What about unchurched people? They have their relationships set right with God. Everyone wins!

The Gentiles and the Jews should work together to set things right.

Before the Gentiles look with distain at these Jews who rejected God, Paul reminds them that God could just as easily remove them from the tree. The Gentiles had nothing to boast over because they were there because of God's Grace and Mercy, too.
This is Paul's message to unchurched people today. Don't hate the church. See it as the Gentiles saw the Jews—God's Old Friend. We can challenge each other to set things right (see chapter 12).

We have nothing to add to God's Righteousness.

The Jews thought they could figure this setting-all-things-right business out on their own. They no longer needed God to help. They were wrong. What they got instead was God's punishment, rejection for a time, and a loss of their exclusive status as God's Chosen People. Do not try to outdo God's Righteousness. There is no way we can be more righteous than God.

The government has a mandate to bring justice to the world.

When we discuss the government and what ways we should obey it, we must read Paul's instructions regarding the Roman Empire. Paul does not want the Christians to either live as hermits and rebel against Rome or go along and worship the emperor as a god. Paul reminds them that the government is only a terror to those who do wrong things, not those who set things right. Then he says something that sounds strange—God gives the government their authority. God gave Rome—a brutal dictatorship who had little to no knowledge of human rights—the right to bring justice to the world. The government has the sole authority to bring justice on criminals. The church should not focus on punishment but on setting things right.

The Gospel in a word is love.

Jesus said the two foundational commandments for the entire law were about love: love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Paul echoes that by stating the Message of Jesus can be summarized in one word: love.

What is your relationship with churched/unchurched people like?

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