And so we hit Romans, perhaps the most important book in the New Testament, because it so clearly sets out what the gospel is.
It was written by Paul to the church in Rome before he had had the chance to visit there. And unlike many of his other letters, he is not addressing any church-specific problems or issues. Instead, all his focus is on the gospel God had set him apart from birth to preach.
In his greeting, Paul talks about how God had called him to be an apostle and set him apart to specifically reach out to the Gentiles.
It would be easy to take this almost as boasting. “God chose me! God loves me!”
But then Paul wrote,
And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints. (6-7)
I love those words.
Paul told the Romans, “You also are called to belong to Jesus Christ. It’s not just us Jews. It’s not just us ‘special people.’ You too are special. You also are loved by God. You also are called to be his saints.”
Sometimes, we wonder how God could possibly love us. We’re nothing special. Why would God even bother with us? And yet God looked down upon us, even before time began, and said, “I choose you. I love you.” He saw all our faults, all our sins, all our weaknesses, and despite all that, said, ” I set you apart for myself.”
And that’s actually what “saint” means. It means “people set apart for God.”
A lot of us look at the word, “saints,” and we think, “Me? A saint? I’m no saint?”
We think that because we picture saints as people with this halo over our heads who live perfect lives.
But you are a saint not because you are intrinsically better or purer than anyone else, but because God has loved you and chosen you.
That’s grace. The imparting of God’s love to you though you did nothing to earn it. Though you are no better than anyone else. And because God has bestowed his love upon us by grace, we have peace with God. We don’t have to worry about whether God accepts us or not. We’d only have to worry about that if we had to earn God’s acceptance. But we don’t.
Before the creation of the world, he already chose you and accepted you. And if we could only understand that, how different would our lives be?
No longer striving, no longer fearful. But resting in the love, grace, and mercy of God.
Father, as we go through Romans, I pray that you would open our eyes. Open our eyes to your love. To your grace. Open our eyes to the fact that you have already accepted us. That you have already chosen us. And teach us to rest in that love and acceptance. Help us to stop our striving and our stressing over trying to be accepted by you. But let us learn to relax in your love, that each day we may walk in closer relationship with you. In Jesus name, amen.