Archive for January 21st, 2010

This week I have been reading through Romans 1:1-7. There’s a lot there. It is dense, thick with words as Paul writes in every square millimeter of the scroll—trying to cram in as much as he can.

Wright, in his commentary, notes: “Paul has now drawn a miniature map of God’s purpose, revealed in Jesus the Messiah, proclaimed in the apostolic gospel.” See, then, what Paul says.

They are ‘called of Jesus Christ.’ (6)

They are ‘called to be holy.’ (7)

But they are also ‘in Rome.’ (7)

The question becomes, at least in my mind, how can ‘we’ be holy and of Jesus Christ when we live in Rome? Rome is a tough place to be, a hard place to live. Rome is full of the wrath and fury of the dragon. But Rome is also glorious and beautiful and her beauty is captivating. How can we be holy, called of Christ, Israel in the midst of Rome?

I suppose one place to start is by remembering that we are also ‘beloved of God’ and a second place is to remember that he has blessed us with ‘grace’ and ‘peace.’ He loves us! We are his beloved! We are his sons and daughters—those he baptized in the Red Sea as he led us out of Egypt. What glorious wonder is this that we should be called ‘sons of God’?

“For Paul, the ‘call’ was God’s powerful word, creating new life—creating, indeed, the response it sought, as a word of love is always capable of doing. And it is to the love of God that Paul now appeals, not for the last time: ‘God’s beloved in Rome,’ he labels the church, ‘called to be saints.’ Both these phrases, while carrying their own echoes of love and holiness, look back inevitably to the status of God’s people in the past, the people whom Paul sees as now renewed and expanded so as to include believing Gentiles as well as Jews.’ (Wright, TNIB)

Just remember today, wherever Rome happens to be for you (maybe Topeka, Port-au-Prince, Washington D.C.) that you are beloved of God—buried, as it were, in the grace and peace of Christ, called to be holy, called of Christ Jesus, and remarkably blessed as a part of the family of God, even Israel.

Paul writes as if the greeting itself came from Jesus. Read this (Romans 1:1-7) then, not as the words of one man to another, but as they really are: The greeting of Christ himself to you. And he is greeting you with grace, peace, and love.

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