Monday, August 16, 2010

August 15, 2010 - Romans 11: 13-17

August 15

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead!

Paul is writing to the church in Rome - a church made up of Christians who are Gentile and Christians who are Jewish.  Two very different groups coming from different perspectives.  While the Jews, through their covenantal relationship with God, have had a special "place," the Gentile Christians are now the majority in Rome.  The Gentile Christians, quite frankly, really don't care that much about the Jewish roots of their faith.  Bringing these two diverse groups together into one church is complicated business.  Paul emphasizes that even if many of the Israelites have currently rejected the gospel message - which in turn has brought many Gentiles to the church - how much more amazing will it be when God works reconciliation through these people.  "If part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy."  

While Paul's language and imagery is not 21st century, the situation certainly is.  It is the old story of the new and the old trying to coexist together.  Each thinks that it is an all or nothing battle to the end.  We either need to keep everything the way it is or throw everything out and start over.  Either/or when Paul is trying to explain that he believes God's plan is both/and.

As churches try to navigate the treacherous waters from modern to post-modern - Christendom to Post-Christendom - members of the body of Christ often experience a kind of host/graft rejection.  "I don't want your idea of church in my church."  "Your idea of church is not my idea of church, so I don't need you."

Paul tells us that both groups are needed.  How much richer will the Kin-dom of God be when we bring what is best about both groups - Jews and Gentiles; old and new; modern and post-modern - together.  All life dies without constant movement and change, but not all change is healthy.  That which we reject now because we do not understand or like, may be the very thing that will bring us into closer relationship with each other and God.  "what will their acceptance be but life from the dead!"

As we pray for God's will at First Christian, we must pray for patience, open-mindedness, and respect for each other.  We must pray for willingness to follow God's path even if it seems a little shaky to us now.  Together we will be able to see that 'the whole batch is holy."

Patient Guide, we think that in order to survive, it has to be all or nothing.  Certainly our civil discourse has deteriorated into that mentality.  But your church is different.  We know that we are all part of the Body.  We know that you are continually working in the world - you expect us to change as your world changes.  Help us to see with clear eyes the changes that you will for us to be a healthy vibrant part of the Body.  Help us to see with loving hearts where our own arrogance can blind us "to a time to keep, and a time to throw away." 

--Maggie Sebastian

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