“For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10 NRSV
Last summer I challenged myself to preach on the Epistles. I like a challenge, and the letters of Paul and others definitely are rich with teachings and encouragement, as well as calls to accountability. They also are often full of confusing contradictions (seemingly) and contain what I call the “round-about” passages. These are the passages that seem to repeat the same words over and over again. Maybe that’s part of the reason I tend to go toward the gospels and some of the Hebrew scripture passages.
Nevertheless, this coming Sunday, I chose Romans 5:1-11 (I still like to challenge myself!). Paul’s letter to the church in Rome is rich with assurances and reminders of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ. We all need to hear that kind of encouragement. What struck me the most in this passage were the words “grace” and “reconciliation.”
God’s grace is often hard to comprehend. When we try to explain it to someone who really doesn’t understand grace, we might hear them respond with “grace isn’t fair.” Well, I suppose from our “worldly” perspective, it isn’t! But God’s grace is an inclusive one, and it’s open to everyone, including us.
A friend of mind used to argue with me about the fairness of grace. She would say that a criminal and murderer who confesses on their death bed is just manipulating God’s grace. How could they spend their lives being so sinful and then be welcomed into heaven? She would be so frustrated when I would say that it’s possible, but ultimately it’s between God and the person. We can’t make that judgement; only God can, and God knows what is in the person’s heart.
Verse 10 above reminds us that initially, human beings were separated from God – “enemies” because of our sinfulness. It is through Jesus Christ that we find that grace of God and are reconciled with God. Jesus has set things right with God through his life, death, and resurrection. Reconciliation is an “aaahhh” moment when all those negative feelings, worries, and even anguish are relieved.
John 3:16 reminds us that “God so loved the world.” God didn’t just love the churches, the early followers of Jesus, the disciples, or a few select folks; God loved the WORLD! The world – all of humanity was reconciled in Jesus, the Christ. It’s a joyful thing! Paul says we can boast, but he doesn’t mean being arrogant. Rather, he is talking about that excitement that comes from knowing that we are living in God’s grace.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we will be without suffering and pain in our lives. Instead, we have been given the gift of God’s love and companionship that helps us to get through life’s challenges. We have a strength in Christ that fortifies us and gives us a foundation on which to build so we can keep on keeping on. By the grace of God, we are reconciled and given life anew over and over again. Thanks be to God!
How have you experienced God’s grace?
How have you found reconciliation with God that leads to reconciliation with someone else?