03.Rambling through Romans (3): 1:1-7

Romans 1:1-7 (3)

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writes the Romans that the church seeks the obedience of faith “among all the Gentiles” among whom are the Romans themselves “who are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (v.6).

Paul here affirms the great truth of Christian faith that the one thing we can know with certainty about any and every person we meet is they too “are called to belong to Jesus Christ.”

Get in mind the face of that person who just bugs the hell out of you.  They can do nothing right.  There’s nothing about them you like.  You turn the other way rather than walk toward them.  Maybe they are bullies or “know-it-alls.” Or that person who always beats you out in athletics, academics, business, whatever.  Or a snob who thinks they are better than you.  Maybe even a moral reprobate or some kind of addict.  Someone you devoutly hope not to have to spend eternity with.

Got ‘em in mind?  We all have them.  No need to deny it.  Get ‘em in mind.

Whatever disturbs or distresses you about these folks (and remember you are that person for somebody else!), Paul still insists that even they are “called to be saints.”

As often, C. S. Lewis says it best.  In his famous sermon “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis memorably articulates this reality.

“That being so, it may be asked what practical use there is in the speculations which I have been indulging. I can think of at least one such use. It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship . . . All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.  There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”


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