Romans 1 First, Good News
Ok, so I am doing a personal study on Romans and posting my reflections on this challenging letter of Paul’s. This is the first epistle in the bible. I have already posted my findings of the second chapter. Why you might ask did I start with the second chapter and fall back to the first. I thought it important in this study to touch on the idea of not judging others. Christians enjoy using this first chapter especially the latter part, which I will touch on in my next reflection of this letter to point fingers and exclude a certain segment of our society. That’s why it is good to remind us not to judge others. Paul is quite adamant about this.
This letter begins with a crashing booming “hey you!” almost as if Paul is trying to get the attention of everyone. He is saying this is important so you better listen up. He announces who he is a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. (Romans 1:1). He explains what this gospel, good news is how we wishes to come to Rome and go on from there to Spain bringing to the west the good news that Jesus Our Lord gives grace to all. In Romans 1:8-10 Paul writes, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.”
Paul in his serving, preaching, and prayer remembers God. This is important for this chapter and the remainder of this epistle. Paul didn’t have a hand in starting or pastoring the Church of Rome, but he does hope to come there to fellowship, worship, and teach them.
What is this gospel the good news that Paul is not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed —a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[e] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17)
The good news is this that God loves us no strings attached without qualm or reservations just as we are not as we should be, but loves us way too much to leave us that way. God fierce love and grace will not leave us as we are but will transform us into His glory in the world. A right reading of the bible says that we are God’s handiwork made in his image to be his people to bring the good news to all that God is good and wants to remake this world the here-and-now into the Kingdom of God. Both N T Wright and Rob Bell say that in Genesis 1 and in Revelation 21, there is no separation between heaven and earth. God is about making this happen and as his servants; we are to live in such a way that this will be a present-day reality not just a future hope and promise.
I know of no other writer than Brennan Manning who writes and speaks so emphatically and wondrously about the grace of God. Here are some of his words.
Justification by grace through faith is the theologians learned phrase for what Chesterton once called “The furious love of God.” The central affirmation of the reformation stands: through no merit of ours, but by his merit we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of his beloved son that is the good news of the gospel of grace. The gospel of grace calls us to sing of the everyday mystery of intimacy with God instead of always seeking for miracles or visions. It calls us to sing of the spirit roots of such commonplace experience as falling in love, telling the truth, raising a child, teaching a class, forgiving each other, standing together in the bad weather of life, of surprise and sexuality, and the radiance of existence. Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, and of such homely mysteries is genuine religion made of. Grace abounds and walks around the edge of our everyday experience.”
Just as Genesis begins with blessing than moves to sin, Paul begins with the good news than moves onto the bad news. The bad news can wait for another day. I will tackle that tomorrow. For now, for this day just rest in the blessed assurance of the good news that God loves you. Yes, yes you! God loves you. Know this, live this, share this as widely deeply, radically, and wastefully as you can. Know that God loves you and let this gospel be your foundational story.
Grace and Peace