12 Aug

Good Morning,

We are up to Romans 4 and I am using The Message again.  Paul continues the argument about who is included in the new promise of Jesus the Christ.  He goes back to the beginning of the Jewish faith history with “Father Abraham”.

In this paraphrase, Eugene Peterson says, that the story of faith is not a Abraham-story, but a God-story.  Jesus tries to get people to hear this over and over again in the gospel.  It is not a Savior-story, Messiah-story, or a Jesus-story; it is a God-story.  It is about what God is doing in the lives of people who will open themselves to the Divine Presence.  It is about a gift that is offer, which none of us can earn, but all can enjoy and find the reason for our human story.

1-3 So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”

4-5 If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

6-9 David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man:

Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off,
    whose sins are wiped clean from the slate.
Fortunate the person against
    whom the Lord does not keep score.

Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?

10-11 Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That’s right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life.

Paul’s frustration is that the people have forgotten that Abraham received a gift that brought his life meaning, and that the mark of circumcision was a response to that gift and not the reason for it.  (Note:  Paul, and apparently, the people/men in Paul’s world are obsessed with who is and who is not circumcised – it is such a man thing.)  It seems as through our human nature is to mark ourselves as “special” and take credit for what we are or have been given.  Truly, most of what we are is an accident of birth, what we become is our choice.

Is your story a God-story.  one of Gladys Knight’s songs says:

If anyone should ever write my life story
For whatever reason there might be
Ooh, you’ll be there between each line of pain and glory
‘Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me

I think for me, it is God who has been the center of my story.  It makes for an interesting life, and one for which I really can not take any credit.  It is a God-story.    Peace


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