Reading Romans: God’s Invite List

by admin on August 24, 2015

Reflections for 16 August 2015
Romans 9:1-18

In the 4th grade we moved from Mellett Homes to Arbor
Road. I changed schools, from Harter to Baxter. I was the new kid and the outsider.

Yeh, I guess we’re stuck with the new kid. Ever been there? What’s it like to be last chosen or not at all?
—not make the cut
–uninvited
–squeezed out of the running

If we approach Romans 9-11 from that perspective we’ll get an idea of what St. Paul was trying to get at so long ago—and yet he speaks to profoundly and clearly for our day, too.

Quite simply Romans 9—11 Jewish question. Are Jews going to be saved? Eternal life? Heaven? Have a place in God’s kingdom? Will they make the cut?

What might a sound bite of Romans sound like?
• Life is lived on God’s terms.
• Nothing can separate us from the love of God
• There’s a choice we can make: craziness of this world or Best Possible Life in Jesus.

Some think Romans 9—11 a parenthesis, detour, side track, easily deleted. Not so. Paul’s been preparing for this issue all along. Here is the litmus test of the truth of Christian faith: What does God’s invite list look like?

Romans 9—11 this is about God, not Israel.

This is personal stuff. Look at the passion and emotion in which Paul is caught up.
Huge sorrow.
Enormous pain. I’m not free of it.
If there’s any way I could be cursed and they would be blessed by it—I’d do it in a minute

Do you have a passion like that for people who aren’t in Christ? Those who aren’t in Christ = those for whom church is an institution to be avoided or just visited. And Jesus is a nice idea.

In Christ = daily decision that life is God’s; we are stewards of it and all of it is permeated with grace.

Do you have that kind of passion for your own spiritual formation?

Paul names off the great particulars of Israel’s religion. Family, glory—Shekinah, covenants, revelation, worship, Messiah. Another starting truth: Jesus was a Jew.

This brings him to a sticky wicket. If Jews are chosen, how come they don’t get it?

Paul’s answer isn’t off the cuff. I marvel at how much off the cuff we approach life by. How quickly we dismiss other people, their ideas or religions traditions, even other Christian confessions, as somehow being out side of God’s will and thought.

What’s before us in Romans 9-11 is the fruit of many, many years of labor, thought and prayer.

In the end of 11 Paul is able to see further into the character and aim of God’s election. Something he didn’t see at the outset. There is a divine purpose unfolding in history.

The problem with Israel’s unbelief leads directly to God’s sovereign choice. Paul notices that his present problem points to a past pattern—Jacob, Esau; Moses and Pharaoh. The pattern? God cannot be compelled to be merciful by any other cause other than himself.

Hey, I thought I got to go to heaven because I believed the right stuff; went to the right church; did the right things; voted the right way.

This is difficult stuff for us spiritual high achievers. No—God runs that show, we don’t.

God cannot be compelled to be merciful by any other cause other than himself.

Gertrude Stein: how odd of God to choose the Jews.
How odd of God to choose any of us.

If that’s the case, why believe at all? Why do this Christian thing?

Dallas Willard: there is nothing—no other religion, political ideology, philosophical system, psychological analysis—nothing—on the face of the earth than can create the quality of the person that a living relationship with Jesus Christ can.

The difference belief makes-trust in Jesus—is the crafting of a soul and a world view from God’s perspective. This isn’t natural. Not natural to show…..

Generosity in face of hard-heartedness.
Forgiveness in place of resentment
Hope instead of despair.

It can only happen thru divine intervention.

Daughter Project—film on Friday night about sex trafficking. Only a religious, spiritual intervention will work for all involved.

Calvin Trillin. Denny. Yale memoir of friend, nobody knew. An insider on the outside. Would be president. Suicide. Big Chill scene: “I think he was genuinely worthwhile. He was a hard case for whom I had a lot of respect. He made it difficult, but he was worth the trouble.”

Am I? Are you? Is anyone? Worth the trouble?

If God’s invite list is expansive, why is mine a dozen names on a 3×5 card?

If God is inclusive, why am I so guarded and closed?

If God has a clear vision in mind, why am I so stuck on my
fuzzy and puny version of reality?

I am not saying: it doesn’t matter what you believe; or: all religions are the same.

Only in Jesus Christ is God’s plan for reconciliation possible. And it’s possible when we who claim him as Lord, see the world as he does and know there’s always room for more in the Kingdom of God.

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