Romans: A Summation

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—  to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

As Paul moves on from 15:19b-16:24, he makes personal comments about his upcoming plans very similar to what he said in chapter 1, and then gives a series of personal greetings to individuals, finally coming to these verses with which he closes the letter. These verses, considered by most scholars to be a doxology express Paul’s praise to God for his ministry and for the message of the Gospel that he has brought to the Gentiles. I’ve been wondering for a couple of weeks now how best to treat this last section in Romans; how to conclude this study, and until yesterday morning I had no clue what I would do at this point.

Yesterday morning, I was teaching a class from Hebrews 8, and near the end, a woman asked me a question. It was a really hard question, not so much because of its complexity, but because she phrased it in a way that I wasn’t sure what she was asking. It struck me at the time that she was thinking out loud; that perhaps she wasn’t completely sure what she was asking, or of how to put it into words. There was something in it about a rather difficult neighbor and weeding flower beds near his property…

That’s when I had the answer to the question that I wasn’t sure she had actually asked, and that answer really sums up Paul’s message about Jesus Christ here in Romans…

Grace has a twofold effect: It is available to anyone who will accept it and follow Jesus, and when we accept it, our sins are forgiven and taken away entirely, which is the first effect of having received grace. The second effect is that it begs a response, but that response is not simply a legal requirement of some sort, it is a response of love. Our loving response to grace is that we let the ways of this world go and follow Jesus Christ in selfless service to Him and through Him to those around us. This means that we let Him be first in us.

That difficult neighbor was the key in my mind yesterday, so I told the woman that since Jesus is within us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are His Ambassador, the closest thing to meeting Jesus face to face that the neighbor is ever likely to experience in this life is meeting you: When he meets you, in effect, he is meeting Jesus. If this is our attitude, we need not worry about an encounter with a difficult neighbor, or anyone else for that matter, for it will be Him in us who does the talking, we will know exactly what to do; get out of His way.

I think that more than anything else, this is Paul’s message in Romans, for this is love in action, and it is that mystery that was hidden in ages past, but that has now become known; to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Now, dear reader, all we need to do is to let Him reign in our lives.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to Romans: A Summation

  1. paulfg says:

    “That difficult neighbor was the key in my mind yesterday, so I told the woman that since Jesus is within us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we are His Ambassador, the closest thing to meeting Jesus face to face that the neighbor is ever likely to experience in this life is meeting you: When he meets you, in effect, he is meeting Jesus.”

    By gum, Don. Now that has made me review a few “meetings” – even today! Now I get why “simple” is bandied around as “so hard”. But it will also make me think about “meetings” yet to come – and pray quietly to get the “simple” back more and more.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Simple is good, but simple isn’t always easy… but it usually isn’t as hard as we make it 🙂

      • dwmartens says:

        Perhaps the hardest part is getting used to setting “self” aside, even crucifying self, and “get[ting] out of his way!” When one hasn’t seen or recognized it clearly in others, and hasn’t simply experienced it in one’s self, it’s hard to know how to do it. It has to be recognized and experienced, then there needs to be the desire to continue in it and make it the way of one’s life. Quite a hurdle of change for most of us! Certainly Jesus needs to be seen in his disciples for him to take root in other’s lives, and to grow in the life of the disciple.

  2. Little Monk says:

    Wow, Don.

    Yup yup. And look at this cool thing… you remember my thing about the “Radioactive God”? That He, like, transforms us by degrees through “contact”?

    Well, your teaching to your student is the heart of what so many people I know reject. Their objections are generally, “That’s too easy! You must mean that *I* am supposed to DO something, BE some way, GIVE up something…” in the sense of some heroic work or sacrifice. When really, it is a far more “quiet” thing, (as one friend of mine puts it)… “just let Jesus be Jesus in you, because only Jesus CAN.”

    The “crunch” comes when our “feelings” don’t always align with our “will” or our “conscience”, and we have to exercise patience, self-restraint, self-discipline not to let adrenalin take center stage.

    BUT, when/if we can stay focused on Him and His love, even through consciously focusing on the perspective Jesus first taught at Sermon on the Mount… “behave as the Father wills… because this is how the Father behaves towards YOU”… When/if we DO that, then we will actually FEEL far more loving and patient with the difficult neighbor, and the presence of that love within us (both mind/conscience, and heart) actually does this transforming work on our feelings.

    I’m a living testament to that. I’m vastly more “patient” than I used to be (believe it or not, lol)… But I’ve never succeeded in “earning”, “learning”, or “acquiring” any “patience”. He’s just more me, and He has “patiented” me more.

    (Some words just cry out to be invented!)

    Grace to all! — LM

    • Don Merritt says:

      Yes: “It’s too easy” (simple)… “But why don’t we believe you?”

      Yes, that’s what some will say! But you know what? The class I was talking to was the class that always says those things, the ones who generous provide me with anecdotes and examples 🙂

      AND THEY DIDN’T SAY THOSE THINGS.

      Go figure?

      We can only share with others our overflow from our time with Jesus, and if we don’t have Him to share, than we don’t have anything to share.

      Excellent comments, LM, and much appreciated!

  3. God bless that former Pharisee, Paul, who brought clear thought to his faith along with common sense!

  4. Pingback: Meeting Jesus face to face | Just me being curious

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