Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28 and Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b
1 Kings 19:9-18 and Psalm 85:8-13
Peace be with you!
Society views good people as those individuals who follow legal, moral, and friendship rules. If you lend a hand to a senior citizen crossing the street, you are a good person. If you do not kill, steal, lie, or misrepresent yourself, you are a good person. If you respect, honor, and love your friends and family, you are a good person. Rules help us group good individuals together, bad individuals together, and the really evil individuals together.
Of course, the statements above are too generalized and too black and white, but you get the idea of how rules can be used to define us as good, bad, and really evil. Yet the statements do not leave room for the grey area, which is where most, if not all, of us live. The grey area makes room for small and big mistakes, for being a foolish young person, for understanding the situation, for protecting your loved ones no matter the cost, for being human, and so much more.
Under the Jewish way of thinking, individuals who followed the laws of Moses gain righteousness. But who can follow all of the laws of Moses, except for Jesus Christ of course? What husband, father, and/or brother(s) would not attack the ones abusing the females in the family? Who would not steal food for his/her starving? So who is righteous?
The human condition (thanks to Adam and Eve) makes it impossible for us to keep all of the laws of Moses. The laws are too black and white, which leaves little room for “error” in our lives. How does God fit in our lives then?
How … oh how does God fit in our lives then? When we look down to the dwelling of Satan for God, he is not there (Romans 10:7) because he rose from the dead through Jesus Christ. When we look upward toward heaven, God appears too far away – almost as if it is a dream.
But Paul offers us a third opportunity: God through Jesus Christ is with us in the here and now (Romans 10:8). As we confess our love and belief Jesus rose from the dead, we are saved, righteous through our faith, and brought into a relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ. Our faith allows Jesus to be in our hearts always.
There is also a grey area with the Jewish salvation mystery. Jesus Christ enters the grey area where we live for whatever reason and bring us back to God the Father through his crucifixion, death, and resurrection. God understands we are broken; God understands it is impossible for us to live according to the black and white; God understands we are sinful humans beings; God understands we want and need him in our lives; God understands he needed to provide a new way to be in a relationship with him.
God’s answer: he sent Jesus Christ, his only son, to die on the cross for our sins. God provides us a way to be in a relationship with him. Not only that, Jesus grafts those who proclaim faith into the new humanity, and he is the end of the law to make us righteous (Romans 10:4) (Hultgren 2011). God provides us with a way to be righteous by claiming us as his own. Furthermore, God now makes no distinction between Jew and Gentile; he is the Lord of all – no one is left out or behind. We are all God’s children.
But where is God? How is God close to us? God dwells in our hearts when we confess our faith in Jesus Christ. God is right here. God walks next to you when you take those long walks to solve the [whatever “it” is] that is bugging you. God sits next to you when you read the letters from your soldier who is in the theater and as you pray for him to keep him/her safe. God lays next to you as you sleep. Never forget God is right here.
And the best part is that God is a god for everyone. God is not partial to any one individual or group. God stays close to ALL of his children and loves ALL us of us equally.
Thanks to be God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for being Lord of all. Help us to understand you love all of your children equally and unconditionally. Thank you for your love. Amen.
Hultgren, Arland J. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011.
Please feel free to answer the reflective questions through comments. Please agree to disagree and be respectable to each other. Please take a moment, if you have not already, to sign the covenant. You can answer all or just one of the questions.
1. What does it mean to you to be righteous through faith?
2. How do you feel God’s presence in your life?