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Sunday, August 9, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 10:5–15
Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NRSV)
Paul’s letter to the Romans likely comes from the tail end of his ministry, and so scholars have long seen the epistle as a sort of crystallization of many of the arguments that Paul has made in previous letters. In these handful of verses, Paul lays out what we would think of as the cornerstones of his theology: first, that salvation comes by “confessing with your lips” and “believing in your heart” that Jesus is Lord, not by what we do (Romans 10:9); and, second, that because of that, there is no distinction made between Gentile and Jewish believers in God’s eyes—“the same Lord is Lord of all” (Romans 10:12).
Because these two ideas have long since become inseparable from what it means to be Christian, we sometimes lose the radical nature of the argument that Paul is making. That God would open up salvation to all of humanity through faith and trust in Jesus rather than through observance to the Law marked a sharp break from not just Judaism but other religious concepts of salvation through adherence to behaviors and practices.
That God’s grace would extend based merely on faith and trust would have been eye-opening—and the same goes for the social implications in Paul’s day and beyond. To claim, as Paul previously had in 2 Corinthians, that “anyone in Christ is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) is a reminder that our faith and trust in Jesus doesn’t just have implications for our future but our present as well.
How might each of us extend the grace that we have received so freely from God? How might we recognize and nurture the “new creation” in one another—not dividing in artificial categories of “Jew” or “Gentile” but reminded that “the same Lord is Lord of all”?
Holy God, I am grateful for the depth of love and grace that you have extended to me, and I pray that I might extend that same love and grace to others. Amen.
Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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