For the last month or so, we have been reading Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. In prison, sick, struggling, shipwrecked, he just hasn’t had the time or resources to make it to Rome personally, so this letter contains everything that he thinks those people of faith in Rome need to know.
He wants them to take this letter and not only be strengthened in their own faith, but to carry this letter to their friends and neighbors and everyone they meet in Rome… and to offer to them the grace and love of Jesus Christ.
Everything we need to know about the road to salvation is right here in this letter. We’ve talked about much of it in these past weeks. All of us – no matter who we are – are under the power and control of sin. There is nothing we can do to escape it – not ritual, not the law, not ignorance, nothing.
Nothing, except Jesus Christ.
Paul writes that his faithfulness makes us righteous. His faithfulness makes us worthy of salvation. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us and by his blood we have been reconciled to God.
And so, faith and trust in Jesus Christ helps us to die to that old power of sin and now live under the power of grace. Faith and trust in Jesus Christ helps us to say no to sin and yes to God’s ways. It’s not a magic fix, and it is not an easy journey, but through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the victory is ours already. Now we wait… but always knowing that no matter what happens, the love of God in Christ Jesus is ours.
That’s it… That’s the “Romans Road” as some people refer to it. Believe and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and salvation is yours.
But what happens in this next part of the letter, Romans 9 and 10 is that Paul shifts directions.
He starts writing to the Romans about a deep sorrow that he feels over a particular group of people who have not been able to trust in these words about Jesus:
In selected verses from 9 and 10:
At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites…If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family. I grew up with them. They had everything going for them—family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises….
Believe me, friends, all I want for Israel is what’s best for Israel: salvation, nothing less. I want it with all my heart and pray to God for it all the time. I readily admit that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward… After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on his terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.
Paul’s heart is breaking for his brothers and sisters, his neighbors, and even those people he has never met, who think that they have to earn their way to salvation. His heart is breaking for all of the people who think they are unworthy of God’s love. His heart is breaking for those people who believe that because they have done good in this world that salvation is theirs…
I know that each of us in this room this morning, has someone in our lives that our heart breaks for.
I want you to take just a moment and think about that person.
Maybe it is a spouse or a child that wants to do it their own way, and not God’s way.
A brother or sister who has always had it rough in this life and just can’t accept that God would love them after everything that has happened.
A dear friend who has left the church and left the community of believers and now is disconnected and alone in their faith struggles.
We could probably spend hours today naming those people in our lives who are separated from the love and grace of God that is in Christ Jesus.
I’ll admit it myself. My heart breaks for my own husband who is this jumbled mix of pride and doubt all at the same time. And I know that I can’t make that decision for him. I know that I can’t let it all go for him. And so I pray. And I love him even more.
We feel this way… this aching in our hearts for our brothers and sisters in this world… because we know how amazing it is to experience Christ’s love.
So, when was the last time you actually told that person how you felt? When was the last time you laid your own fears of rejection aside and asked them to just look at your heart and see the deep love and compassion and genuine concern that you have for them?
Here’s the thing. You could lay out the Roman Road for them. You could give them a lecture or hand them a tract or read to them from the bible… but when was the last time you looked that person in the eye and said –
Whether or not you are ready
Whether or not you want to let God in your life…
I need you to know that I love you and that my heart breaks sometimes because you have not yet experienced the joy and the freedom that comes from letting God in.
That love I have for you will never go away.
And God’s love for you will never go away.
Whenever, if you are ever, ready to experience it too, I’m here.
We have to actually speak the words. We have to carry that message of love and salvation to our friends.
As we heard this morning in the scripture that Colette read, “ If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raise him from the dead, you will be saved.”
So when is the last time that you carried that message to someone you loved?
When was the last time you sat and wrestled with someone who was unsure of God’s love in their life? Or helped them to see that they could chose to let Christ rule their hearts rather than money or status or culture?
As his heart is breaking for the people he loves… Paul writes in verse 14 (and I invite you to follow along):
But how can they call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?
|Photo by: Jesse Therrien|
It’s a good song… but it’s not a good motto to live by.
Every person, in every place, including our own families and circles of friends, needs to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. Will you let Christ send you?