S (Scripture): Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
O (Observation): Paul lifts up Christ’s sacrifice to show how far off we (humanity) are from being “good” and “righteous” on our own. Paul has been arguing that one’s good standing before God comes only through God’s grace. God, in Jesus Christ, is that sacrifice that brings us grace and hope. Jesus overcomes our separation from God (sin and death), and brings us hope of new life in Him.
Conventional wisdom says that if you want a sacrifice on your behalf, then you need to show yourself worthy. Jesus made no such requirement. Instead, Jesus lifted the veil that covered all eyes.
The Law can be thought of as restrictive or oppressive. In truth, the Law was created for freedom’s sake- that people might live within these bounds of the Law and feel free to be committed within those bounds, caring for one another and loving the Lord.
The Jewish Christians needed to hear that The Law was an expression of God’s grace, not the avenue to God’s grace. Jesus came to fulfill The Law, to reach the conclusion of The Law: hope and grace to all.
A (Application): We still get stuck in restrictive use of grace these days. We feel that “good” people deserve to come to “our” church, and that all others who fall outside our own definition of “good” are not to bother us.
Our text today refutes this notion of division. All are indeed welcome. Christ’s gift of his life as a sacrifice comes to all of us, and we are ALL sinners. Sometimes we just need an attitude adjustment : )
Part of the vision statement of our congregation (Advent Lutheran Church, Murfreesboro, TN), is to “welcome and accept” all people.
Who do you have trouble accepting as a recipient of God’s grace? Who has wronged you, that you wish they didn’t receive forgiveness?
May we see Jesus’ gift of grace as a gift to ALL people, in all times, from all backgrounds…for we are all sinners in need of redemption. May we move from “us vs. them” to “we.”
P (Prayer): God of grace and God of glory, on your people, pour your power. Help us to accept Jesus’ gift of grace, and help us to accept that others are forgiven. Amen.