Paul writes to the church in Rome and raises three momen- tous questions to help the members understand more clearly their relationship to God through the person and work of Jesus Christ. First, “If God is for us, who is against us?” The short answer to this question is “no one.” God is the only one who can judge us. Since all sin, regardless of what or to whom it is directed, is against God, God is the only one who can bring charges against us. Because of the death of God’s son, Jesus Christ, and our freedom from the captivity of sin, God will not bring charges against us—God is for us, not against us.
Paul asks a second question, “Who is to condemn?” The short answer is Jesus Christ who not only died but also was raised to life! Jesus will not undo his salvific work on the cross —it is once and for all. Jesus’ sacrificial act clears our guilt and liberates us. Jesus has provided that freedom. In addition to lib- eration, those who trust in Christ have new life—a gift that only God can give—and this gift of life comes with Jesus’ continuous intercession on behalf of all believers.
Finally, Paul raises a third question: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” Christians affirm that Jesus makes us more than conquerors. Regardless of our adversary, worry, fear, or suffering, God’s love provides a way out. We are indeed vic- tors not victims.
As believers we live into the future knowing that God’s timeless, ceaseless, and limitless love envelops us. Clearly Paul desired the church in Rome to understand its relationship with God through Jesus as one beyond the temporal. New life in Jesus Christ brings a personal and permanent love.
Help me, God, to remember your great love for all people, even me. May I live into your unfailing, permanent love. Amen.
In the Genesis text, Jacob the trickster is tricked. Yet through a combination of patience and perseverance he ultimately wins Rachel, which sets the stage for all that follows in the story of Abraham’s family. Psalm 105 addresses a forgetful community that has lost touch with the God of the Exodus. Remembering becomes a powerful experience when it focuses on both God’s actions and God’s judgments. Romans 8 also serves as a reminder of God’s way, of God’s movements from knowledge to action, from saving grace to promised glory. The scribe of Matthew’s short parable brings out of the store- house both what is new and what is old. There is no true future without a remembrance of the past.
• Read Genesis 29:15-28. When have you experienced a setback due to poor treatment at the hands of someone you trusted? What did you learn?
• Read Psalm 105:1-11, 45b. How do you “seek God’s face”? How do you offer thanks to God?
• Read Romans 8:26-39. Consider Paul’s three questions and formulate a one- or two-sentence answer of your own.
• Read Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52. How do the parables about what the kingdom of God is like surprise you? How do they shock you?
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