Humans expend a lot of effort in trying to make peace with their gods. We tend to attribute value and worth to many different (false) gods: success, wealth, tribal or national loyalty, self-determination. Yet the gospel of Jesus Christ tells us that these ideas are mere distortions of the reality they purport to represent. These ideas do not deserve our allegiance because they are false. Take wealth, for example. Elevating wealth as an ideal, as our society so often does, simply illuminates wealth’s failure to meet emotional needs. Chasing wealth does not lead to abundance but instead to lives of poverty, fear, and despair.
In Romans 4–5 Paul draws upon the faithfulness of Abra- ham and Sarah to show that trust in the living God affords us a kind of real peace. This authentic peace grows from true relationships built on endurance, character, hope, grace, and suffering. Just as Abraham and Sarah often faced alienation, persecution, and despair in their lives of faith, their faith in a God of loving providence prevailed.
In Romans, Paul engages in lengthy theological explora- tions about how the early church may best live out lives of faith in the God of Jesus Christ. But at the core of it all is his clear belief that Jesus enables humanity to be reconciled with a lov- ing God, to be at peace with God through faith.
Paul’s belief in making peace with God through Jesus Christ is audacious but totally grounded. When we trust that God loves us faithfully through the ages, we will never be disappointed. Our future is one of hope. For the early church and for us, mak- ing peace with God means that we will be able to make peace with ourselves and with others—even with our enemies.
Reconciling God, may we make peace with you and all human- kind. Amen.
Two threads run through all the readings. One is the claim that God is powerful over all things. Psalm 116 makes this claim most eloquently with its assertion that God “has heard my voice and my supplications.” The story of the promise of Isaac’s birth demonstrates that it is God and God alone who gives life. Matthew situates the call of the disciples within the larger context of Jesus’ mission and understands their work to be the consequence of God’s decision to send workers. Paul emphasizes God’s power by recalling that God’s act of reconciliation comes within the setting of human alien- ation and hostility. The second thread is that of the unworthiness of those whom God chooses.
• Read Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7. When has God presented you with a laughable opportunity? What incredible offer would you like God to propose to you today?
• Read Psalm 100. How do you create a future of hope by recalling God’s faithful action on your behalf in the past?
• Read Romans 5:1-8. When have you looked for a superhero in a crisis situation? Who came to your aid?
• Read Matthew 9:35–10:23. What field of harvest is God calling you to? Do you yearn for wheat rather than potatoes? How do you go about an attitude adjustment?
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