Scripture:For I, Paul, am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)
Reflection: Paul’s basic theological position is summed up above. The person who lives by faith, that is, absolute trust of God, is declared righteous, that is, in a healthy relationship with God, by God. Paul didn’t create this idea; he got it from the prophet Habakkuk. In Pauline thought, Jesus is the model of the righteous person. Jesus died in trust of God, and God raised him from the dead. Thus, Jesus was righteous and became a model of righteousness for both Jew and Gentile (Greek). What had previously been earned through obedience to the Torah (Law) for Jews, namely, salvation, has now been offered as a free gift, namely, grace, to everyone, if one responds to grace with faith, that is, trust of God, like Jesus.
Paul tells the Romans that he is not ashamed of this good news. God validated his work in Jesus by raising him from the dead. The enmity that existed between people and God before Jesus has been removed. And God has proved himself to be reliable and trustworthy. Thus, Jesus represents the means (through faith) to a healthy relationship with God and the result of a healthy relationship with God (for faith). What had once been the means of salvation, namely, the Torah (Law) for Jews, has now been replaced by the example of Christ Jesus for Jews and Gentiles.
There is no room for being ashamed in a spirituality of mission. The gospel, according to Paul, is simple: Jesus died while remaining faithful to his relationship with God, and God raised him from the dead. Jesus is the model of the new creation that God has begun for Jew and Gentile. The relationship God had (has) with Jesus Christ is the type of relationship he wants to have with every human being. Furthermore, because he knows that people are not able to make the first move toward a relationship with him, God makes the first move by offering grace, himself, to people, so that they have the ability to respond to God. The person who is not ashamed willingly accepts God’s offer by responding to him and tells others of this salvation offered to all by God, just like Paul did.
Journal/Meditation: What is your experience of accepting God’s grace in order to enter deeper and deeper into relationship with him?
Prayer: All-Powerful God, you offer salvation to everyone who has faith. Pour your grace upon me so that I may enter more deeply into a relationship that is right with you. Through the example of your Son, Jesus Christ, keep me faithful. I ask this through the same Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit are one God, forever and ever. Amen.