Today’s reflection on our Bible reading was written by Annie Kate Watson (a senior in the Crash Student Ministry). Enjoy this guest blog as you follow along with us in our Summer Bible Reading.
I was initially very excited to comment on Romans 8 & 9 because one of my favorite verses comes from Romans 8:
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This long list of extremes has always reminded me that no matter what our excuse is for why God can’t possibly still love us, there’s nothing that isn’t a match for God’s grace and love. We as humans tend to be very crafty at coming up with reasons why we’re undeserving or can’t possibly be used by God, but the reality is that no one can outdo our Creator. He has infinite love and mercy for us – something that I am still trying to wrap my head around.
This brings me to the portion of Romans 9 that resonated with me the most.
19“One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist His will?” 20But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God?? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? 22What if God, although choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath – prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory?”
As we’ve been reading into Romans, I’ve discovered that Paul is quite talented at analogies and trapping his readers in their own faults. He’s also got quite the blunt tone as evident in verse 20, and I’ve got to say that I really appreciate his reality check. We can make all the excuses we want, but, at the end of the day, it’s quite simple – God is God and we are not. We, in fact, don’t even come close. Because He is God, He has sovereign choice. This means He can make each of us for the specific purpose he designates, which is not necessarily what we always have in mind for ourselves. Yet, when we start to feel the questions like “Why did you make me like this?” well up inside of us, I think it’s important for us to remember exactly what Paul lays out for us in the rhetorical questions of verses 22 & 23. If we take time to stop and think about it, it’s really absurd that God has such patience with us sinful humans – at least in earthly standards. Think of the little patience we exercise with our family for things as simple as forgetting to wipe off the dinner table or whistling annoyingly. We have done so much worse to our heavenly Father: taking His name in vain, worshipping other idols, etc. In spite of this, we still haven’t seen the Great Flood 2.0. I think this definitely proves God’s love and mercy for us as described in Romans 8:38-39. Perhaps understanding how fortunate we are to have this grace is key to God’s plan to show us the vastness of His glory, as Paul alludes to in verse 23. Overall, these verses from Paul are definitely food for thought. I know they reminded me that God’s plan is so much better than mine, and I hope they do they same for you.
I love how the Holy Spirit works. He helps us understand God’s Word as we read it. Sometimes it comes as a gentle reminder, and other times as a wake up call that feels more like a punch in the gut. In both cases the Holy Spirit tends to draw our attention toward just the right verse we need to see. For me today – it was the very first sentences.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” – Romans 6:1-2
Yesterday we had just finished reading the last verses of chapter 5 that spoke about grace increasing where sin increased. Paul is teaching the people in chapter 6 that just because we live now in grace, does not give us a free ticket to keep on living in sin. In fact, because we have been set free – we should want to flee sin all the more. Paul goes on to explain why the Law was put in place by God and why it’s important. I love in chapter 7 verse 7 how Paul says that the law is what helped him realize he was in sin. Paul says, “…I would not have known what sin was except through the law…”
May we all receive the grace offered to us by Christ, but then live like Him and not like our sinful nature. We have been set free! So rather than using that freedom to live in sin and selfishness – use that freedom to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Jesus. Live in such a way that points others to Him.
Today our Bible Reading also includes the second half of the explanation of Romans by the folks at The Bible Project. Check out that video below. They do a wonderful job showing how Paul weaves all the chapters together to tell the beautiful story of the Gospel.
This morning as I read chapter 5, I’m simply amazed at the grace of God. Sin entered the world through one man (Adam) and yet because of the grace of God, we are able to be justified of that sin by one man (Jesus). I love how Paul puts it in verse 19,
“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” – Romans 5:19
In the moments where I feel far away from God and more like Adam than like Christ – I love how Paul reminds me that, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (5:20b) Thank you Lord, for your unconditional love and extravagant grace.