Romans – “Therefore”
One summer my mom, a successful Avon lady, talked me into earning college money by taking on a “territory” to sell Avon products. In the old days, this meant going door to door in an assigned neighborhood. I remember praying, God, help me, with every step. This was probably one of the most challenging things I had done in my young life.
I remember what calmed my nerves as I walked up to each home. If the door was opened, I felt like there was a chance for a welcome. If I could hear music playing, somehow that seemed friendly. If kids were playing in the yard, that was really helpful. I love kids. If people were already outside their doors, sipping tea and talking with friends on the porch, then I was extremely relieved with courage to ask, “You wouldn’t want to buy this stuff, would you?” No, I was not a great door to door salesperson at that time! I’m laughing now just thinking about it years later.
What scared the be-jabbers out of me on that journey in life were barking, snarling dogs with eyes to kill, big men, guarding their domain, who did not want their women buying anything, hateful language flowing from open windows and shut doors with no one coming to answer even though I knew someone was inside staring at me through the blinds! Probably the weirdest response to my question was a woman who tried to psychologically analyze me with questions about my life and why I was doing what I was doing.
After reading today’s last passage (Chapter 11) in Paul’s letter to the Romans, I wonder how open the door is to our churches? What do we look like? How friendly do we seem? What first impressions do we have on “outsiders” seeking answers to their questions? Mm. Are their barking dogs of criticism? Are there people who want to analyze our sin? Are we too proud of our heritage to let anyone “join” us? Are we suspicious of anyone knocking on the door of our traditions and unwritten laws?
OR, are we seriously the Body of Christ with Jesus in control? Is our music friendly? Are others drawn to music designed to worship God alone? Do we believe and proclaim that the gospel is for EVERYONE and then show it with our faces and behaviors? Do we literally OPEN THE DOOR with a smile and a greeting of value for all who enter? Mm.
I think these thoughts as Paul explains to the outsiders that God has not given up on His Friends, the “insiders”, the Jews. The door is open. It was open for outsiders which means the door is still open for the insiders to change their minds and enter into His glory once more.
Aren’t you glad God keeps His promises? Rejoice in the very thought! Now, let’s worship together, knowing that we are all on equal standing with God, our Father!
Romans 11, The Message (Part 3 of 3)
A Complete Israel
25-29 I want to lay all this out on the table as clearly as I can, friends. This is complicated. It would be easy to misinterpret what’s going on and arrogantly assume that you’re royalty and they’re just rabble, out on their ears for good. But that’s not it at all. This hardness on the part of insider Israel toward God is temporary. Its effect is to open things up to all the outsiders so that we end up with a full house. Before it’s all over, there will be a complete Israel. As it is written,
A champion will stride down from the mountain of Zion;
he’ll clean house in Jacob.
And this is my commitment to my people:
removal of their sins.
From your point of view as you hear and embrace the good news of the Message, it looks like the Jews are God’s enemies. But looked at from the long-range perspective of God’s overall purpose, they remain God’s oldest friends. God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
30-32 There was a time not so long ago when you were on the outs with God. But then the Jews slammed the door on him and things opened up for you. Now they are on the outs. But with the door held wide open for you, they have a way back in. In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.
33-36 Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
Is there anyone around who can explain God?
Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Think about it…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for opening the door to all who seek You. Thank you for reaching out to us. Thank you for helping us find you. Thank you for helping us hear Your Voice and follow You. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit who guides and corrects our steps to You. It is ultimately all about You! Be Lord of my life. Transform me. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen