Heading Home: Walking with Jesus to the Cross — Day Ten

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Romans 3:21-31

But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

One of the loveliest — and densest — of all Paul’s writings, this chunk of Romans requires careful reading and lots of reflection. Some of these words are very familiar to those of us raised in the church — maybe too familiar? Do we miss their power because we know them so well?

Do we remember the overarching point of this passage — inclusion? Sometimes, when I look at the church, I wonder. We quote, and re-quote and dredge up for any and all purposes this beautiful little phrase: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But what about what comes before and after? 

Both places talk about inclusion.

Paul is arguing for us here, friends. He is arguing for the inclusion of Gentile believers into the fellowship of the redeemed. He is telling the Christians at Rome — and all of the billions of us who have read these words since then — that God does not distinguish between people when it comes to salvation. Every single person who chooses — at any point in their lives — to step out into the abyss and say ‘yes’ to the goodness and righteousness of God, most particularly as that goodness and righteousness have been revealed to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ — ANYONE is welcome.

More than welcome, we are justified —  a good, old-fashioned word that most people haven’t a clue about defining. In essence, we are made right. WE ARE LINED UP, against the truest Level in all creation and we are found straight and true.

Each and every one of us — Jew or Gentile, long-time believer or newbie convert, male or female, rich or poor, a ‘good’ person or a lousy one: everyone is folded in. It isn’t the law that saves us — nothing we can do in our own steam is gonna make one whit of difference: only faith.

Not that the law is useless, no, not at all. But the law is redefined, re-situated in the life of the Christ-follower. The law becomes the result, not the cause. The law is transformed into the fruit of the Spirit, in all its nine-edged glory and those who lean into Jesus are declared to be redeemed. Thanks be to God!

Oh, Lord, we can so easily get hung up on behavior, on rules, on who is in and who is out. But you don’t, ever. Remind us that Jesus came for EVERYBODY, not just the good guys, not just the ones who look and live like we do, but all.of.us. By your grace and through your power, help us, O Lord, to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Great food for thought here, Diana. Are we including everyone and welcoming them with open arms as Jesus would want us to? I know I’ll be forever grateful that God came for all of us, not just a select few.
    Blessings!

  2. Elaine Reed says:

    Sometimes the “Church” forgets this. Paul certainly had an important message. Thanks for the blessed reminder.

  3. Margie Bicknell says:

    Good reminder to all of us. Thank you, Diana.