Ever since President Obama’s remarks about same-sex marriage, I have seen Romans 1 chopped up and slammed against the LGBT community. The symphony of Romans does not deserve to be chopped up into the clanging metal of weaponry. Recently I did a personal study of the entire Epistle of Romans, through the lens of grace. It was most refreshing. Today I begin a blog series on Romans 1 and 2 (well that’s my plan, perhaps I’ll be inspired to keep going…) The word of God is not a weapon to use against people; it is light to our souls (Psalms 119:105). Perhaps we should all sing “Thy Word” before bashing someone with Romans 1.
A Servant of Christ Jesus (1-7)
Romans 1 begins with a humble reminder of identity. Before lifting his hand to conduct one of the most intense and beautiful symphonies of Christian truth ever composed, Paul remembers his identity. He is a servant. A servant of Christ Jesus.
Furthermore, Paul remembers his calling– called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. He recalls briefly all that has happened in God’s redemptive history– the promises given of old, the messages of the prophets and the Holy Scriptures, the kingship of David and most importantly, Jesus Himself. Jesus through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. Jesus is our Lord. His grace, His love, His calling, His peace and His Lordship is what we are called to embrace. In any issue, we are to share God’s good news.
As we approach any issue confronting the Church, I call for us to pause and remember our identity and our calling. Who is in charge here? Christ Jesus is in charge. Whose purpose are we called to? Our purpose belongs to Christ Jesus. How are we to treat other people? We see them as loved by God, especially the saints.
I Thank My God (8-13)
Why did God inspire Paul to write the Epistle to the Romans? There are many reasons to be sure, but first Paul says he writes because he is thankful. “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” (8) Gratitude for their faith. Paul kept gratitude in his heart as he was about to unleash a letter that begins with the wrath of God. Paul was thankful for the Roman Christians and longed to see them to be mutually encouraged. As we dialogue about various issues, should we not be thankful and seek to be mutually encouraged?
The Righteous Will Live By Faith (14-17)
Paul declares that he is not ashamed of the gospel. He had no problem discussing issues and praying with and for Greeks, non-Greeks, wise, foolish- and the Romans. I think it is highly interesting that Paul does not mention “Romans” in verse 14, but says “non-Greeks”, which is like calling Americans “non-British” :) I think Paul wants those who hear his letter to the Romans to cast aside all pride and humbly listen to what God has to say through his letter.
Paul is not ashamed of the gospel of grace, for such good news reveals a righteousness from God, that can only be received by faith from the beginning to the end of our journey. In fact, faith will be the life of the righteous.
Just before his thunderous overture that is Romans, Paul quietly sets down the premise of the entire letter, a premise that God gave to Habakkuk long ago:
“The righteous will live by faith.”
Do we understand that? Paul’s reason for writing Romans is to demonstrate the truth of this statement. Paul’s writing begins with some inviting, pleasing music and then draws quiet, perhaps with a single flute calling us to humbly bow before Jesus our King and to cleanse our hearts to receive what good news God would have for us.