Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7

This is quite a sentence. I once preached for 25 minutes on the first three phrases. What does it all mean?

It means that, behind all of the chances and changes of life, behind mountains that rise and fall, behind lives that come and go, behind every tear and every laugh, every cell, every sunrise, there is a godly purpose being worked out. God is at work.

Paul understood his own life as having been caught up in what God was doing. He remembered well when he thought that he knew what that meant. It meant excellence in his ambition to be the best Pharisee he could be. It meant crushing his rivals. Until that fateful day when Jesus himself called his name and Paul experienced the blindness which helped him see just how blind he had been all along. Everything changed, beginning in his own heart.

Then Paul came to gradually understand that the “new thing” he thought God was doing in Jesus was in fact what God had been doing all along. Blessing the world with the promise of life as it was created and intended to be. Jesus had won the only victory that mattered so life was no longer about beating everyone else. It was about loving everyone else. Just as God intended.

Paul discovered that he was largely along for the ride. God was doing the heavy lifting. God was the actor, the director, the producer. God was the Giver of all the gifts that mattered.

And Paul wanted the church in Rome, and through them the church today, to know what he had come to know. We are servants of God and thus servants of one another. We each do our part toward the common good. We matter. We have been called, chosen, set apart. We have been named, claimed, and reclaimed. We have been given a peek behind the curtain to what is truly real in life. What is real is love.

But this will always be a supernatural love, never to be confused with fondness or lust. We are forgetful. We are selfish and we are self-centered. God wants to heal us of that but we will always live in the tension between the now and the not yet. We need God’s help to hear well the voices the appeal only to our selfishness for they deny the power of God’s love and in that, they deny the reality that lies behind all reality.

This Christmas, should you be blessed with a gift from another, may God give you the eyes to see through the gift to the person who gave it, and through that person, to God who is the giver of all gifts. This is what Paul was able to see, once healed of his blindness. This is what drove him to share the good news with others. It is what sustained him through trial and adversity.

It is what sustains and drives us as well. We belong to Jesus. We are both gift and gifted.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, today is a gift. You continue to work out your holy and eternal purposes, even through our small and common lives. You are both hope and healing, to us and to this broken world. Sustain us in our calling to be and share the love you have for the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Romans 1:1-7”

  1. LaNita Says:

    Always a blessing! Thank you!

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