He is Risen!
Many years ago I set out to memorize the book of Romans. I was a new follower of Christ at the time and not knowing where to begin I chose the book that had been most often quoted to me as others had sought to bring me into a relationship with Jesus. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” “And the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).” “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).” “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).”
Indeed the passages were convincing. I was not unaware that I had fallen short of anything god-like and it was good news to know that God loved me enough, even in my mess, to lay down his life so that I could be saved from mine. And so I confessed and declared and called it finished. But, when I began to memorize the book of Romans I realized that I was far from finished and that there was far more to the story. I was not just saved from something, I was saved for something.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly lifewas a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. (Romans 1:1-5)
Grace and apostleship. Grace is the unmerited favor that God gives to people. Without exception, we all love to receive God’s grace—it is truly amazing. But the passage says we have not only received grace but also apostleship, which means we have been sent out with a message to proclaim. According to the Apostle Paul, at the same time God’s grace was received, a commissioning to share this good news to all the Gentiles was also given. And, I wonder why, with few exceptions, we don’t receive this gift from God?
Those of us who have received God’s grace are commissioned to be messengers of the good news that we follow a Savior who put on flesh to come and walk with his people. Our Savior was a descendent of David, a God who lived in skin and therefore understands the trouble of our days and that is news worth sharing (Heb. 2:14-18). But unlike us, he was not trapped by sin nor defeated by death but triumphed over both of them so that all people could be set free. It is such good news to share.
We follow a God who loves people and a God who liberates those he loves. This is the message that you and I are meant to proclaim to the whole world. Yes, God gave us grace and that is good news. But it is even better news when we consider that we do not have an exclusive claim on the grace of God, but that God intends to extend this grace to the ends of the earth and he intends to do this by sending us out as his apostles.
As we continue in this Easter season, celebrating the good news of a good God who conquers sin, death, and the devil, I pray that God will use us at North Park University, as together we seek to proclaim the good news that the grace of God and the salvation that comes along with it, is not just for us but for the liberation of all people.