Romans, Passionate Christian Theology
Years ago when the “Phones for You”, a religious telemarketing program of reaching thousands of households for the purpose of inviting them to your church, was popular, I remember one response well. When asked simply, “do you have a church to attend?” The exasperated reply from one man told it all, “I’m Baptist, my mamma was Baptist, so I’m Baptist! I followed up with the next question, “So, are you a believer in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord?” His angry response was, “I TOLD you I’m Baptist!” We ended well but his response told a lot about his heart. And by the way, he finally admitted he hadn’t attend church for a long time. But, “I am Baptist!” he said.
Paul tackles the issue with the Jews thinking that because you are born into the Jewish religion, you are “in” with God. But if you do not obey the law, do not accept the gift of Jesus, then your religion is not going to save you. This was tough Truth coming from Paul to the Jews. Jesus said the same when he was on earth…quoting in His Word…from the beginning of creation.
Romans 2, The Message
Religion Can’t Save You
17-24 If you’re brought up Jewish, don’t assume that you can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you’re an insider to God’s revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I’m quite serious. While preaching “Don’t steal!” are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away.
25-29 Circumcision, the surgical ritual that marks you as a Jew, is great if you live in accord with God’s law. But if you don’t, it’s worse than not being circumcised. The reverse is also true: The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised. Don’t you see: It’s not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew. And recognition comes from God, not legalistic critics.
There is a popular saying floating around with good Truth, “Don’t just go to church…BE the church.” I think we are trying to say, don’t just obey all the rules, worship on Sunday and volunteer at the church every time you are asked, but be the person God intended for us to be in daily living, as you go about your work, no matter what that work is, extending the grace that God gave you. For accepting, believing and behaving because of our heart’s devotion to God is what He sees and recognizes in all of us!
Where do I go, Lord? What do I say? Who do I talk with today about You? Who can I help to know you more? How can I serve someone else today? These are all questions that take the focus off ourselves and sets our minds, hearts and souls on Jesus…the ONLY ONE who saves us. Be the church beyond the walls of the structure where we gather to worship. The best work is done outside….where “the fields are ripe for harvest”.
In Whose Name do we pray? Jesus! Then it’s in His Name that we live and breathe, work and play and BE. Make God smile today!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We love you so much. Our hearts are full of praise for You this morning. We love how you work in us, weeding out all the unholy stuff, washing us clean and then putting us back “in the field” to help some one else to know you more. Only You can save us, not our church, for church is not perfect, only forgiven. It truly is all about You, not our chosen religion. Thank you, Lord for clarification. Thank you for salvation and purpose. May our random thoughts help someone today.
In Jesus Name, Amen