Romans 15:1-7

We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but, as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:1-7

I love to teach our confirmation classes at my church. I’m not saying that I’m all that great at it, just that I love giving it a shot every week that we meet. We expect every young person to bring at least one adult, preferably a parent, ideally both parents, and then I get to teach the whole crew. We all become students. As the teacher, I have to think about how I will present the topic and I learn by doing that. The students have a chance to learn something new, and frankly, so do their parents.

The “secret sauce” to it all is the realization that parents are just big kids with more responsibilities. No matter how old we are, or how much we have accomplished in our lives, or how hard we have worked to grow up, there is always, and will always be, that “middle school aged” part of us that we will never fully leave behind.

Usually, that part of us is what feels pain the most deeply. And that is the part of us that needs Jesus the most.

Do you remember your middle school years? Growing into your own body. Sprouting pimples. Worrying about fitting in. The cruelty that kids inflict upon one another. Trying things, especially the things you weren’t supposed to try. Still being a child even as you know that your childhood has suddenly slipped by. School becoming more challenging. Seeing those mysterious classmates who actually seemed to have quit caring about anything that matters. Stepping into the lunchroom and wondering where you would sit. Old friends deciding they don’t want to be friends with you anymore. Your first painful tastes of romance and rejection.

Just starting to break away from your parents but not yet old enough to drive so you couldn’t break far enough away. Curfews every night. Dormant addictions gradually moving in and taking over, even before high school – that’s what happens, according to the experts. And we saw it happen. Those were some tough years.

I believe we carry those years in us for the rest of our lives. The stakes get higher but we still play the game. And then Jesus comes along and changes the whole game.

Jesus tells us that our identity isn’t a function of our race, our class, our parents, our ethnicity, our hometown, our clothing, our sexuality, our gender – our identity is rooted in being a unique and blessed child of God, loved powerfully and eternally.

Jesus tells us that he doesn’t grade us, or keep a scorecard, or even remember our sins. He gives us a fresh new start every morning.

Jesus tells us that we are always welcome at his table for dinner. We have a new family called the church that lives in virtually every neighborhood and every city and we are at home in any one of them.

And then Jesus invites us in joining him in sharing the experiences that this new game creates in our lives with others. To make way for the new kid. To live in harmony instead of competition. To worry about the needs of others more than our own. To put others first, not because we have to but because we want to, because we want them to know that they matter just like we have learned that we matter too.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we all want to know that we matter, that we count, that there is a place where we will be welcomed, where we will know that we belong. Bless every effort in your church to be that place, and to share that experience, with all you send along the way. Teach us anew that it is in loving others where we will feel most deeply loved. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Romans 15:1-7”

  1. Joye Roll Says:

    Love this!

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