Romans 9: Children of the Promise – Part I
Adapted from a reflection written on June 3, 2010.
In this chapter of Romans, Paul puzzles over the lack of faith in the Christ story among the Jewish people. They are clearly chosen by God to convey the message of freedom and salvation to the world and in fact, one of their own is the Messiah; yet they reject the message of hope and promise that Jesus offers. This is also the message that Paul proclaims anew.
In the previous chapter (Romans 8), Paul reminds us that faith is the belief in things not seen; hope is the exercise of expecting something that is greater and better than we think likely (8:24-25). He reminds all of us that the Holy Spirit is at work in and among us, and that we must be open to God’s plan rather than forwarding our own. Now he puzzles over the lack of expectation and fidelity in those who have had the advantage of the special status; he finds it strange that the very people and tradition that have engendered the message now turn against it.
Do we see this same contradiction in our own age? Do we see it in ourselves? If not, we might be content to muddle forward as always. If so, we have a clear choice before us. Do we blame God for the failings and lacks in society? Or do we examine ourselves, and then rely on God as we take action?
Paul answers some of his, and our, questions in verses 14 to 16: What then are we to say? Is there injustice on the part of God? Of course not . . . it depends not upon a person’s will or exertion, but upon God, who shows mercy.
We are part of God’s great design and are called to take part in the redemption of the world.
Shall we say, then, that God is unjust? Not at all . . . So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy. (GNT)
We are God’s precious children, and are asked to demonstrate the same mercy that God shows us.
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! . . . So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. (NASB)
We are the receivers of God’s great promise. Let us accept this gift graciously, and act with God’s justice for all.
Tomorrow, more of Paul’s thinking. How does it affect all that we do?